Although today was a wonderful day, we took a bit of a tour that wasn’t so pretty. We went around the city of Belfast. Belfast is in Northern Ireland where conflict and tension is always happening. The Black Taxi Tour is a tour about the political conflicts. They take you through the city of Belfast and show and explain the differences. The city is split in half, literally. There is wall built in between them. On one side is the Catholics, and on the other is the Protestants. There is such a hatred between the both that they had to put up a wall to make peace. The wall stands, and is called the “peace wall.” The Peace wall was built in the late 1960’s; it’s 30M high and more than 10 miles long. Because people were becoming so violent, the British thought this would be the best way to make peace. The wall has 17 gates, and every evening at 6p.m. the gates are shut until 6 a.m. and also through the whole weekend. Anytime between then people are welcome to go back and forth. You would think the conflict between these two groups would be religion, but it’s more than that. These people are fighting over how to rule, and who should be making the laws. The Catholics believe, the church should make the rules, and they also believe Northern Ireland should follow the laws of the Irish. The Protestants believe the bible should be the rule maker, and also that the British should stay in control. These are two extremes, and they can’t seem to meet in the middle. We sometimes don’t think this conflict is happening today in the world, but we are seeing it here today. It makes you sad, and wonder how people live in such fear, and tension all the time. As we went from one side to another you could feel the tension. It was almost sickening. This isn’t just happening in the city of Belfast but its happening in the whole country. You think of Ireland as one big country, yet it’s split in two. The North is mostly Protestant controlled by the British, and the south is mostly Catholic, controlled by the Irish. This is something we can be praying for, that peace will come between these countries and people. They have lived so much in fear and tension that I feel like they don’t even know what it is like to feel free.
Blessings, Bethany and Team Ireland