Northern Ireland: Uneasy Peace
A community learns to forgive
BY Niall McKay
March 16, 2006
Background Facts and Related Links
Learn more about the political and religious history of Northern Ireland and how a conflict that came to be known as "the Troubles" began.
Niall McKay is a San Francisco-based writer, broadcast journalist and filmmaker. He wrote "Northern Ireland: Are the Troubles Over?" for FRONTLINE/World in August 2005. Currently, he is an associate at the Center for Investigative Reporting in San Francisco. McKay writes for the The Economist. In 2001, McKay spent two months in Indonesian Borneo working on a documentary on headhunters and cannibals. He is also the director of The San Francisco Irish Film Festival and comes from County Wicklow in Ireland. He graduated from Trinity College Dublin and moved to California in 1996.
After decades of violence, Northern Ireland is finally experiencing the possibilities of peace. Reporter Niall McKay takes us back to the island of his birth to examine the transition from a civil war to a civil society in the north corner of the Emerald Isle.
McKay lived for a short time in Belfast, which was a bombed-out and boarded-up city in the 1990's.
The so-called "troubles" began in 1968 when Catholics demanded equal voting rights from the Protestant controlled parliament. Demonstrations ensued. Later, the British army, originally brought in to keep the peace, became embroiled in the violence. More than 3,700 people have died since the conflict began.
Now the British troops have left Belfast, the IRA has destroyed its weapons, and the visible scars of war have been healed by a newfound economic optimism.
McKay takes us in to the back rooms and front yards of Belfast to speak to survivors on both sides of the conflict. Neighbors -- who for years felt nothing but hatred for each other -- are learning to live in peace.
"We're expected to report on conflict," McKay says, "but what about the story of conflict resolved?"
Now that the violence has ebbed, McKay finds that the hard work of forgiving is underway. His film "Uneasy Peace" introduces us to men who lost their sons and fathers, and to women who are working to keep forgotten traditions alive. McKay also reminds us how beautiful Ireland really is, with its rolling green hills, ancient churches and robust legends.
But the journey toward peace is a fragile process that has faltered more than once. The morning that McKay arrived to start filming, the car belonging to a man who was to be one of his main subjects in Northern Ireland had been stolen and burned. The summer brought dozens more torched vehicles, and tense riots. Why, wonders McKay, were Protestants still rioting if the IRA had declared a cease fire?
A Protestant man named Willy explained it this way, "Some of the people we lived side by side with came and murdered us...you just can't simply turn around and say, 'Well, we have to move on' because they say they've done this and they say they've done that."
Despite the difficulty, Willy and others like him on both sides of the bitter divide are making steps toward healing. Trust is slowly growing. McKay talks with community activists, local youth group leaders, and those who are hoping to heal communities by providing a place to tell painful stories.
McKay finds that their stories are remarkably similar.
"People think that in Northern Ireland Catholics and Protestants are quarreling about religious difficulties when really they are fighting for resources, power and money. Each community wants equal access to housing, jobs and political power. Who wouldn't?" he asks. In the end, McKay says, what the working class on both sides needs is a decent living.
Chu Yu - Taipei, Taiwan
I work for a non-profit organization in Taiwan. We are organizing a documentary series talking about conflicts in different part of the world. We are deeply interested in the Northern Ireland issues and I think this film seems like a very good choice. Is there any way for me to obtain this film "Northern Ireland: Uneasy Peace?" I would also like to know whom can I talk to regarding the copyright if the film. Thank you very much for your assistance. I appreciate a quick reply.
FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
You may contact the filmmaker, Niall McKay, directly at his production company, The Media Factory, in Berkeley, California. This is the web site: http://mediafactory.tv/
Thank you for your interest in FRONTLINE/World.
I'm- years old and have lived in Northern Ireland all my life. I love this country, and personally think that the troubles are outdated. I have often thought, why these troubles started...well, I have been studying our Irish History, and these "troubles" began way before the 1990s, yeah..try the 1640s, when Queen Elizabeth started the plantation in Ireland, she thought it would be a good idea to give the Protestants OUR land...So of course over the English came, and weren't greeted very warmly, which is different from what you would get today I can assure you that. So after they came, there was the 1641 rebellion, where we rebelled, and people in England couldn't understand why, so there was a lot of bloodshed and so on and so on. From that point on after Oliver Cromwell, it has been Catholic versus Protestant, and well that's it really, my history teacher would be so proud!! So that's how all the troubles started, I hope this has enlightened you. Peace be with you all!
RJ Davidson - Kilrea, County Derry, Ireland
I think the only way to cure the problem is to split the 6 Counties into 2 Federal State [of 3 Counties each} and let the 2 States choose what country they want to part of the UK, Or Ireland. Nationalists can play the numbers games to just the way Unionists did in 1920 if they came about nearly the whole of the Six Counties would be part of Ireland, and not the United Kingdom.
Mr. McKay challenges the Unionist's prejudices but listens almost worshipfully to the Nationalist. I am a Kerryman myself, so guess which side I identify with, but this was poor journalism.
Bill Zirkle - Chantilly, VA
Ireland: a Less Troubled Beauty It has been a long time since I thought about Ireland, almost 28 years. I was an undergraduate writing my first research paper for freshmen English. I did stop and pause ten years ago to marvel at the "Good Friday Agreement;" but the time was short; being embroiled in my own troubles. Now, I have a current collegiate assignment that finds me and Northern Ireland with fewer problems. Mr. McKay's 2006 video is short. A lot of material is packed into its 14 minutes. My first reaction was that little had changed in 28 years. The film highlights everything I learned for my paper in its brevity. Jill And Leon Uris writes: Ireland: a Terrible Beauty in 1978. The book, a photo graphical marvel, was wonderfully current in 1980 for giving one an informative view of the people of the Irish Isle. Geoffry Bell contributes a 1976 view of the Protestants of Northern Ireland. Ian Paisley, the unionist, achieves infamy in Uris' book and is a central person of my research.(1) Surprisingly, today finds Mr. Paisley as having just retired from his church and political party.(2) More astounding was his working with nationalists over the last few years to make the GFA work in the face of the agreements near total collapse.(3) That the IRA would generally disarm and allow a state sponsored police force is something that could only be dreamed about. The video, not surprisingly, shows the persistence of mistrust for law enforcers. It even extends to the unionist side.(4) This unimaginable progress is real and seems to have solid footing. Thinking beyond the situation as it was in 1980 first required clarification of some matters. Religion is not the primary issue, I wrote. Citing Lynch, I believed that partition in 1921 actually politicized religion.(5) Next comes the argument over who is a "real Irishman." Certainly far too many generations have been born rendering moot 17th or 18th century colonial terms of "authentic Irish" (born on the Irish Island) and "colons" (emigrants from Scotland or England). Irishmen are Irishmen. Lastly, the problem with Ireland is not a land dispute between Britain and Southern Ireland. I wrote: "I consider the solution of the problem lies in self-rule and unification of north and south. This does not mean that they would shun the British. On the contrary, friendly relations with Britain and membership as an autonomous body in the European Common Market [now the EU] should be realized goals. The Irish should create their own parliament and a constitution which shall be voted upon by all the people. This 'constitution of the new Ireland would have to be written with firm and explicit guarantees for the rights and liberties of all who live under it.'(6) The principles of separation of church and state should be applied to make this a government of the people and not of any particular religion. The inclusion of federal and state levels of government would give local regions the ability to work around specific problems and customs of their area. The violence must stop. Groups who use violence must cease hostility, The British must return to England, the IRA disbanded, and the Orange groups ordered.(7) This and only when will peace finally result in Ireland. It is obvious that the solutions of the past are vast failures. The Irish can not afford to think of themselves in majority and minority terms. Parnell has said "'no sir; we cannot give up a single Irishmen. We want the energy, the patriotism, the talents, and the work of every Irishmen'"(8lynch) Let us let the Irish siblings "grow-up" on their own without the excessive burden of mother England, which hampers their maturity anyway. The Irish can be united and autonomous, if only we will let them."(9) Mr. McKay's video and recent history validates my conclusion. It is my pleasure to be alive to witness, albeit from afar, historic results close to my suggestions. Today, I think uniting north and south is not as important as I thought then. Local autonomy comes first. Meeting the challenges of self rule will not be easy.(10) If the people of northern Ireland can make a nation-state work, I cannot criticize their decision. I am not an Irishman. Yet, the Republic of Ireland does have a GDP per capita that puts those Irishmen within the top ten of nations, even ahead of the United States!(11) If I were a Northern Irishman, regardless of my Animist, Atheist, Buddhist, Druid, or which ever religious affiliation, I would want to be a part of an economy like the southerners'. I would want to see north and south distinctions become regional distinctions without the fence called a state border. Finally, the video could better satisfy me in several ways. I do not think the nearly two and a half minutes used to describe the murder details was a good use of the allotted 14 minutes. Depiction of violence is so common place that McKay's film could have made its point about healing more succinctly.(12) What is glorious about the film is the 35 second conclusion. It absolutely cries for more time; those minutes spent dwelling on the past gory details. It is those 35 seconds that advances beyond my work from 1980. Let us have a sequel that extends those 35 seconds with the hope that the time for these Irishmen becomes centuries.
1) Jill Uris and Leon Uris, Ireland: a Terrible Beauty, (New York: Bantam Books, 1978), pp 179-181.2) "The old order changeth." Economist 386, no. 8564 (January..., 2008): 55-55. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed August 15, 2008).3) "The impossible becomes reality." Economist 382, no. 8522 (March 31, 2007): 64-65. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed August 15, 2008).4) Donald W. Shriver and Peggy L. Shriver, "Something Like Forgiveness," Christian Century, March 25, 2008, p 11-12. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1058/is_6_125/ai_n25384109/pg_1?tag=artBody;col1>5) J. Lynch, "Anglo-Irish Problem." Foreign Affairs. July 1972, p612.6) ibid., p 616.7) Uris, ibid., p 190 and 201. a good exploration of Orange Order culture.8) Lynch, ibid., p 617.9) William Zirkle, "The Problem with Ireland," Self Published, (November, 23, 1980), p 17-18.10) "A time of peace." Economist 383, no. 8528 (May 12, 2007): 60-61. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed August 15, 2008). elucidates current challenges, including educational issues.11) United Nations Development Programme, "Human Development Reports," 2007-2008. <http://hdrstats.undp.org/indicators/5.html>12) "Something like Forgiveness" (cited above) is current and explores this matter well in brief.1980 BibliographyBell Geoffry. The Protestants of Ulster. London: Pluto Press, 1976."De-catholicizing Ireland." Christianity Today. January 5, 1973, p 51.Dures, Alan. Modern Ireland. London: Wayland Publishers, 1973.Hogan, J. "Ecumenizing the Constitution." Commonweal. December 1, 1972, p 196-197.J. Lynch, "Anglo-Irish Problem." Foreign Affairs. July 1972, p 605-617.O'Farrell, Patrick. Ireland's English Question. New York: Schocken Books, 1971.Uris, Jill and Uris, Leon. Ireland: a Terrible Beauty. New York: Bantam Books, 1978.
New York, USA
Hi. This is really interesting post. Thank You! I have just subscribed to Your rss!
Northern Ireland is facing an extremely difficult time period right now due to the thirty six years of violence and oppression dividing the Irish Catholic and Irish Protestant Churches. Over 3,700 lives have been lost due to this unnecessary and ruthless conflict between the two churches. The Protestants wish to remain faithful to the United Kingdom while the Catholics are pushing for a United Ireland. This whole situation is heartbreaking and unsettling at the same time to those who are informed of the violence and sad times in Ireland. It is depressing to be informed that two groups who claim to worship the same God and savior have allowed this situation to get bad enough that people are constantly arguing and fighting to the point that innocent lives are being compromised. Mistrust is also rampant throughout the communities. Small organizations, such as Community Watch, have formed in order to provide fair protection for Catholics. The idea of bringing back the old Irish Language as a connector is a fabulous idea not only for re-building communities, but as well as providing a better education for those who learn both languages. My reaction to this Frontline piece was that I was disappointed about two churches were responsible for this violence when we are supposed to be brothers and sisters through Christ...
While I can honestly say that I knew little about this conflict before watching the piece, I feel as if he did a great job of conveying the clash in Northern Ireland. What on the outside looks to be a simple religious matter truly has the depth of politics, history, and culture. The Catholics and Protestants have been quarreling for some time now, and this recent unsteady peace is definitely a fragile thing. I think what may have stuck out to me the most was the fact that their own police force was and is making things worse. The violence and fear brought about by the IRA has affected the lives of so many of the Irish. The few personal stories shared showed lives that were impacted by the disagreement but trying to hold onto a hope for lasting peace. I also felt that it was interesting and insightful how he made the connection between the hurting working classes on both sides being the ones who suffer the most and the importance of stable jobs for these citizens in the future; commerce rather than politics will bring peace. It is hard to envision such a beautiful country with so much pain and devastation, but hopefully with the work of the willing Ireland will continue to move towards stability and peace.
I think we are moving from a period of turbulence to a period of norming. We realise that we have to find a way to work with and around each other. The old arguments are no longer valid but cannot be ignored. See the honest view and the craic from the people of Northern Ireland www.norniron.tv
I was a serving Marine on 4 tours, born in the U.K. To an [Irish] Republican father, my choice of career was not popular. Here we are 30 years on and really all that was achieved was the right to vote. As a soldier it can be hard to be apolitical. The North was cheated by Michael Collins following that fateful visit to Downing Street (set up by De Valera it is said). Britain has ceded India, all of Africa, and the rest of her colonies. Why doesn't my country just do the fair and honourable thing? Had we given the land back to the rightful owners, I would still have two great friends to associate with plus a few aquaintances. Because little has been won - besides peace -this will not last.
New York City, New York
I still don't understand many nationalists in the North, the current peace process wil never achieve a united Ireland. Just because everyone makes money in Northern Ireland now its fine. But when the economy goes down and people realize life isn't so easy i think fighting will enusue.
Tom Sharkey - Cabhan, ROI
The Provos have dumped their arms, so how come the UDA and others have not done so? The British won't force this issue, they like to use the UDA as a cover to murder Catholics and probably a few Protestants too (see Stevens Report). It is up to the people of Northern Ireland to put pressure on the remaining paramilitaries (RIRA included) and to vote for those without guns under their shirts.
Coleraine, Northern Ireland , United Kingdom
I think a lot of people think that Northern Ireland is being "occuppied". It's not. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom because a majority of its people wish it to do so and until a majority decides for a united Ireland. Then that will happen. But the people of Northern Ireland are part of the UK and want to remain so. Also, these days, we do not live in a war zone. Northern Ireland is a very safe place. www.discovernorthernIreland.com
Peter Mckay - Madison, AL
Belfast remains a great city. Indeed, the IRA and PIRA have put down their weapons. This is a joyous occasion! I only hope as a Protestant member of the community that I left 6 years ago that my fellow Protestants have also followed suit and are no longer antagonising our fair city with useless tactics.
The voting rights are mostly no longer a problem in Northern Ireland now; conflict between Protestants and Catholic still persists. Too bad each household are entitled to vote twice only. How sad am I to hear that.
jan altus - london, england
It's incredible how much is packed into 14 minutes of programming. It was touching and moving...I liked the way [the reporter] challenged Bill in the churchyard about how the Loyalists' stories were so similar to those on the Republican/Catholic side - and he conceded. Great footage too, I especially loved the pirate radio station! I thought it was a phenomenally well-balanced piece. But it leaves me screaming out for a documentary to be made on the current lives of those people who were directly affected by the troubles but who are no longer (or never have been) in Northern Ireland. There was the diaspora - and I guess some of those people who left must have carried the conflict with them - internally. So, while those left behind in Northern Ireland work on peace and resolution - what's happening to those who have gone or fled?And that leads on to ... the people affected in England and Scotland. I wonder how the people affected by the Birmingham bombings are getting on, or those affected by the myriad of London bombings (myself included) in 1974 and 1975? ... Another disadvantage we English have is a phenomenal ignorance about the Northern Irish Troubles and the Irish/British conflict in general. Most of us never studied it in school and only gleaned what we could from our British newspapers, TV and radio.... I appeared content that the German people of the 1930s and 1940s carry a collective sense of guilt for the wrongdoings of their government - but can we English feel entirely blameless, with no sense of guilt and responsibility?Back to the documentary ... in one way I am lucky because I can hardly begin to imagine how difficult it must be to live in the same village or on the same estate as someone who killed your family or friends and see them on a daily basis, walking down the road, smiling defiantly at you. But your documentary gave me some insight into what that might be like and how people are dealing (and healing) with it. Thank you.
Gerry Donlon - Seattle, WA
Very good program with a good question. Perhaps most insightful to that fundamental question posed is reaction from two of the viewers, one from Woburn, MA and the other from Madison, WI. Nicely removed from the troubles of Ireland as always. The "pro-British unionist/Orange settler community" in the province of Ulster arrived centuries ago and the strident assertion that Northern Ireland is "not" Ireland is an equally ridiculous corruption of history. It is not inconceivable that were it not for the politics (then as now), the guns, and the support of equally bigoted American migrs during the first 2 decades of the last century, Ireland would have become free and economically prosperous on its own within decades and with none of the violence of 1916 and beyond. The South and the North would not have gone through 70 years of cultural isolationism and economic backwardness with the focus being on building a Catholic state and a Protestant state. Sometimes you need 70 years of hindsight.
DAVID JEFFERSON - SAN MATEO, CA
Requires repeated viewing due to the Brogues, however, for the relatively uninformed such as myself, I welcome this film as a first step in the enlightenment process. My grandparents emigrated form County Antrim and County Monaghan but their heritage and mine were not a priority as I wish they had been. I've fallen in love with all things Irish and am just recently discovering the beauty and tragedy of Ireland. The story is just unfolding for me and I appreciate this very significant snippet of Irish life.
Dave . - Spokane, WA
There is a weariness among Ulster protestants of the image they are given by the world's media. We have constantly been portrayed as a community attempting to completely annihilate the Nationalist culture.It is easy to paint the revival in the Irish language as a cultural blossoming, something of beauty. But it is not a mark of the two communities growing together, rather one of emphasizing our separations. It is easy to talk of Protestant groups who won't talk with Catholics but what is rarely mentioned is the Republican tactic of choosing negotiators they know would be offensive to the Protestant communtiy. For example in Portadown, (one of the biggest flashpoints areas) where the chosen leader of the nationalist community group had been convicted of bombing a Protestant bar in the town's center. What was widely reported was simply the Protestant's intransigence.One comment suggested as long as the Protestant community has those such as Ian Paisley representing them things won't improve. I am no supporter of Paisley, but I would point out that throughout the troubles, and indeed up until the last couple of years, all hard-line unionist parties remained in the minority. Protestants supporting paramilitary parties were very much a tiny, tiny minority.Sinn Fein, however, the political wing of the IRA, consistently gained a large proportion of the Catholic vote. What did the Protestant community see? A large section of the nationalist community supporting those who would use the bullet and the bomb.We are told the IRA has disarmed, but we see IRA men captured in Colombia training others for guerilla warfare. We see the last cease-fire last for a year and then be broken by an attack which was at least 6 months in the planning. And after all this the Protestant community still supported the Peace process, and gave in to the demands that murderers and bombers be released from prison. Do not underestimate how big a step that was -- and how much pain it caused the victims.I am not saying that protestants have been the only victims. As the film said the hurt on both sides is just as great. But that is my point, both sides are victims -- hijacked by a small minority of terrorists. The standpoint of either group equally unjustifiable.When will there be trust? When it is earned -- that is the only way trust can be gained. So great are the treacheries and atrocities that I sadly conclude it will be perhaps generations before complete normality is restored. It will not be instituted by reformed terrorists, but when those involved in violence give up their quest for power and allow the everday community to exist and work together as normal people going about their lives and business. For in areas where that has happened, community relations have never been a problem. Democracy, without weapons behind the back, is the only thing which will truly plant peace.
I liked this a lot. I think Niall gave a good balanced view of the situation in the North of Ireland. I am from the South myself, so I know a little about it. It was also quite timely to examine what is happening there now - are wounds healing etc. His final observation, whilst not new, is a good one. If people are doing well economically, they will no doubt have less to be angry and bitter about - a solution to terrorism and many troubles all over the world. Nicely done.
I come from the North. I have worked there with youth in education and counselling. I am now working in Asia, I have worked in other countires which I loved, but I will return to home in the North. There is nowhere like home and warm hearts. Also every where I go, the North follows me: Titantic, the play has been advertised in every country in Asia, George Best footie player , Joey Dunlop the motor bike racer and St. Patrick who was buried in Amragh, the ancient capital of Ireland are all globally famous. All my friends and my generation at home who where born in the 1970s want peace. It is up to communication channels like the media to promote us without mentioning all the time politics and more politics . Thank you for reading my thoughts and experiences.
Nathalia Byrne from County Antrim
Lynn - Vallejo, CA
The "troubles" are often overlooked in the US and yet this continuing argument of people, religion, and governments needed to be solved. I have described the troubles as "apartheid" and "economically driven" not religion, to those that wonder "why?". I am glad that economics, tourism and some good sense are prevailing. It gives the Irish hope and it gives me hope, that is a start for us all. Keep up the good work (Ulster and PBS)!In 1987 I visited Ireland and due to a booking error our group drove on city streets through Belfast (with a spontaneous British Army escort because the freeway was closed). I saw the barbed fencing, barricades and damage to the buildings. I was suprised by my emotional response to both Belfast and the Good Friday Accord, as only half of my ancestors are Irish.
Amanda de Luis - Barcelona, Spain
I live in a country where we still have terrorism. Too bad that we do not have anybody who wants to talk openly about it, showing both sides of the conflict. Probably we would find that they have similar ways to defend their point of view. Also, I still see lots of hatred between "franquistas" (the Spanish right) and the "republicanos" (the Spanish left that also includes the socialists), or between the nationalist areas (Vasc Country and Catalonia) and the Spanish nationalist although the Spanish Civil War ended 70 years ago. Healing is a long process and it takes several generations. Also, I love to see how McKay presents the problem as a "class problem."
Matt Regan - San Francisco (Derry native), CA
A short 30 minute or hour long documentary can never hope to do more than scratch the surface of the the troubles and the complexities that lie therein.
Niall, you made a very good effort and your film is definitely a very informative introduction to Northern Ireland post troubles for anyone who is new to the country and its modern history.I do have a couple of small criticisms...everyone's a critic right?You focused a lot on the sectarian nature of the conflict and in Belfast that was a strong driving force, however in other parts of the country, Derry for example, the troubles waged on largely free of any secterian component so you have to look beyond religion as the sole or even primary cause for the conflict.Sectarianism was a byproduct of the troubles, not their cause.I also don't think that the progress of unbridled capitalism is the magic bullet that will end sectarianism and the national identity question. Raising people out of poverty and giving them employment and opportunities will definitely starve the paramilitaries of many of the disaffected youth that traditionally comprised the bulk of their recruits, but again its is just part of the solution. If poverty and unemployment were the sole causes of the troubles, jobs and economic development would likely result in lasting peace, but we all know its not that simple.I believe it will take a generational gap before we can see true progress towards resolving the true cause of the troubles, the question of national identity.Onlw when the people of Northern Ireland see themselves as Europeans first and Irish or British second will the root causes of the violence cease to exist.Northern Ireland has made great progress and its a much different place then the country I left 12 years ago. Long may it continue, the people there deserve peace and prosperity. I have some friends who have recently made films in Northern Ireland...you might know them.
I found the film very insightful to a point. It is refreshing to show both sides of the divide experiencing the same issues in relation to fear, loss etc. The presenter presented the piece without prejudice and without blame which is important. On the other hand I feel that through the clips of people, especially the last man who spoke, the republican response is unreasonable. It is true that Catholics and Protestants lived together and interacted with one another. Following from this the Republican response seems illogical; so at some point the issue of the oppression of Catholics and the unequal treatment of Catholics within their own 'Country' needs to be mentioned.
le corri - houston, tx
The problem in the north is that people and politicians alike who lead the largest Unionist party are determined not to work with Republicans, because Republicans want to remove the British from Ireland as well as to disolve the partition of the island. They also refuse to see all the changes of the party representing the largest number of nationalists in Northern Ireland. People like that Willy guy have to understand -- nationalists were murdered by unionist/loyalist paramilitaries AND the British Army, many unarmed, as well, but they are willing to 'move on'. As long as people like Ian Paisley represents unionism, I dont see unionism 'moving on'. I hope I am wrong.
Thomas Mitchell - Madison,, WI
Niall McKay starts off by telling us that Ireland is a violent country. It is not. Northern Ireland has been a violent country in the recent past, and in some ways still is. Northern Ireland is not part of Ireland--it is a different country just as Virginia and West Virginia are separate states. It suffers largely because people with Mr. McKay's views have tried to violently assert what he claimed. This is years after the Republic of Ireland and both main nationalist parties in Northern Ireland officially recognized this in the Belfast Agreement. Next time get a journalist who recognizes these basic facts to do the report.
FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
Mr. McKay is well aware that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, as his report and our Web site make clear.
ciaran crowley - Woburn, MA
The report is interesting but overlooks the real problem, i.e. Unionist terrorists who demand to march in the Irish nationalist area and numerous attempts by Unionist residents to prevent Irish school girls from walking thru' part of N. Belfast to get to school. With a mindset like that and filled with decades of sectarian hatred of Irish people (in occupied Ireland), it is relevant to point out that most of the trouble comes from the pro-British unionist/Orange settler community.
Dan Kahl - Manhattan, KSA
McKay's observations about the importance of having equal access to jobs, housing and political power are very much in line with my observations. After spending a short time studying the troubles in Derry and Belfast last year through a partnership program of the University of Ulster and Kansas State University, I came to understand that there is not ONE solution to the political, economic, religious, social, and justice issues that resound in Northern Ireland. However, approaches that encourage healing in all these areas will collectively blend together to help create trust and promote healing. It takes more than one stitch to heal deep wounds.
Janine Pohland - Erfurt, Germany
I'm 25 years old. I've been living in Belfast for one year and working as a foreign language assistant in three schools. I experienced Belfast as a great city and even after returning home to my family, I still miss this place so much. When I arrived in September 2004, I felt a little afraid, but a few weeks later, everything was fine. The Irish people are so warm and welcoming and I like their positive attitude. When they go out, they have fun and enjoy themselves. I also realized that only a small minority of people are responsible for the conflict, which is not a religious conflict. Catholic people have no problem with the Protestant belief, and vice versa. The conflict exclusively bases on political issues, and many Irish are fed up with their sad past. I still miss Belfast like anything in the world, and I'm so grateful for the time I had there.