Building Peace in Northern Ireland:Christian Reocncilers in an Economy of Hate

Eric Getty

Abstract


The Ardoyne neighborhood is not a place a tourist would want to visit. Its streets today are the front lines of what some would classify as a religious holy war, and are the regular backdrop for violent scenes of masked demonstrators, burning cars, and heavily armed soldiers and riot police. Guard towers, walls topped with barbed wire, armored cars, and helicopters are part of daily life in this area, but this neighborhood is not in the Middle East. Rather, it lies far to the north in Belfast, Northern Ireland, part of industrialized Western Europe. Here, row upon row of run-down brick tenements intertwine in a rusted-out, crumbling, crime-ridden tumor in the north end of the city. The people who live here are largely poor, unemployed, inadequately educated, and suffer from widespread drug and alcohol addictions. All of these ingredients create a dangerously volatile mix, but what makes the Ardoyne a particularly tense place is that its streets have been divided and subdivided between Catholic and Protestant zones, and the slightest provocation can become the spark that sets off an explosive chain-reaction of communal violence.


Keywords


Religious Violence, Northern Ireland, Catholic, Protestant, Religion

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