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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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Reports

Tuesday, 10 July 2001
Dundrum --> Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK)

From peaceful Dundrum to Belfast. As Berlin does not has a wall anymore, Belfast has one for their own protection...
Carol woke me up around 10am as a reporter from the Mourne Observer would come by for an interview with me.

I've started to enjoy interviews, just to see how somebody has prepared his/her work and what questions they ask. Most of them are standard but with some changes about the last periode.

And by the way: Every European reporter or newspaper that copies the Agence France Press (AFP) article without further checkings: I DO NOT TRAVEL WITH A LAPTOP! And I might even visit South Africa anyway (however the first press releases said it is hard to get there).

After the interview Carol made me an Irish Breakfast. Terry took some time off from his work and showed me around the area.

We drove through the Mourne Mountains, containing one of the highest mountains on this island and visited the Silent Valley water reservoir.

Here was a little exhibition center where we could see how the big reservoir was built. It was funny to watch a movie about the water transport to Belfast; but we could not really hear it because of a leaking crane in the gents room...

It was a four-seasons-in-one-day-day. First the weather was very windy in the morning, raining around noon and summer hot in the afternoon. I am ready to get my snow boots.

And this is how Irish predict the weather here: "If you do not see the mountains, it is raining. If you can see the mountains, it will be raining soon."

Carol was the one who actually invited me in Dundrum. She works at the advertisement department of the Irish Independent Newspapers Ltd. and heard about me on the Jerry Ryan Show (who did not?).

Even though she thinks Jerry sounded very arrogant about my project, she just loves to have guests in the house.

As my next hosts for tonight live in Belfast, it was not a bother to have me brought to Belfast. Carol's sister was visiting her mother in Dundrum and would drive home to Belfast around 5pm.

So afer a fag and a cup of coffee and their mother's place, she, four children and I packed her van and we drove off. I thanked Terry and Carol for their hospitality, I had a pleasant time in Dundrum.

She dropped me off all the way to the front door where my hosts, the Shiels family, lives.

Mrs. Sally Shiels opened the door for me and welcomed me in Belfast. I met her husband Simon, who was busily speeking on the phone at his home office, and said hi to the children Samuel and Oliver.

Salle asked how I experienced Northern Ireland so far. I told here I only knew about the protestants Orange men who are going to march and that the catholics not really appreciate that.

But of course that was too much of a black and white image I had in my mind, and I knew that.

And with me asking Sally and Simon a lot of questions, they tried to explain me the situations. Multiple yes, because everything goes really very deep.

In Northern Ireland there are strong influences by the protestants, who are mostly loyal to the British Crown (loyalists, unionists). In the beginneing they had a lot of control in this country, which is a depency of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

The catholics were not even allowed to vote, they were in the minority. From a certain time both groups got themselves their own forces, to strike against the other party and the police.

The catholics had the IRA (one of them) and the protestants the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force, on of them).

With the bombings of the IRA in England, they asked attention for the situation of the catholics. And Sinn Fein became a political party for the nationalistic catholics.

Until the cease fire a few years ago, protestants and catholics, loyalists and nationalists couldn't stand each other.

This created the protestant and the catholic areas, after ethnic cleansing, in almost every part of the city.

But it goes on. Even in their own communities. To keep on fighting their enemies and fighting for their rights, the forces of the two (let's call them:) tribes, needed money. So the IRA as the UVF started to ask protection money.

If you pay them as a shopkeeper, you get protection if you need it. If you don''t pay, the pain of a bullet somewhere in your body, would warn you to pay anyway.

People who disliked this situation moved out, just like Brian and Eileen from Dungiven. Exactly three years ago, they had to move because their house was put on fire - just as a warning for anybody with their religion.

Those who tried to move to the independent southern Ireland, where mostly refused by the Irish. They did not really want any problems on their side.

The struggle between the two tribes will still be there and I think they will always be there as it is their tradition.

I think it's even comparible with the Palestina-Israel-conflict and the struggle around blacks and whites in South-Africa. Even there the media just gives you to black and white notice of it, while it goes much deeper in reality.

Please know, these are all just my conclusions after a long night of listening to history, facts and answers. So I can still be wrong in certain cases.

After dinner (chicken curry) Simon took me around for a quick tour. Showing me the different areas in Belfast and some no-go-areas.

From sunset until dawn the roads to and from the dividing areas are just blocked off with a big wall. So it would be difficult from a certain group to make trouble on the other side.

Berlin does not have a wall anymore, but Belfast still needs one for their own protection.

The streets were empty and Simon adviced me not to take pictures of everything. People could get suspicious as we could be spies or even police.

When I got to bed this day, I was overwhelmed with all the information, it even confused me that I couldn't even understand it all!

Good night Belfast!

Ramon.



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