The European Capitol of Terrorism: Belfast, Ireland - VICE Travels to Belfast - PART 1 of 4

Uploaded by vice on Nov 2, 2011


MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: We have a big fire behind us.
There's going to be an even bigger fire at 12 o'clock.
And we're doing it for a reason.

This is Belfast, capital city of Northern Ireland, and long
considered the European capital of terrorism.
To outsiders, it's a city defined by the centuries-long
conflict between Catholics and Protestants, which, reduced to
its simplest parts, pits nationalist Catholics
demanding unity with Republic of Ireland against unionist
Protestants who want to remain part of the United Kingdom.
In 1969, the modern version of the Troubles, as the conflict
is locally known, kicked off when British troops were
dispatched to Northern Ireland to quell a spike
in sectarian violence.
It would turn into a 30 year troop deployment, a violent
civil war that claimed 3,600 lives.
In 1998, after years of killings, bombings, hunger
strikes, kneecappings, torture, and terror, the
political parties of Northern Ireland and representatives of
both Catholic and Protestant paramilitary groups signed the
Good Friday Agreement.
Weapons were decommissioned, paramilitary prisoners were
released, and peace came to Ulster.
But it's been a tenuous, brittle peace.
We went to Northern Ireland during the height of the
marching season, when unionists bang their drums and
celebrate a centuries-old Protestant military victory
over a Catholic king.
Tensions were high and, we soon discovered, while the war
may have ended, the conflict is far from over.


MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: Our guide to the Catholic side of the
conflict was Gerry Foster, a former member of the INLA, a
Catholic paramilitary group that's a lot like the
better-known IRA, but with more references to socialism
and Che Guevara.
GERRY FOSTER: I was in prison for a [INAUDIBLE] bomb,
attacked [INAUDIBLE] party headquarters, which would have
been the biggest pro-British party in Ireland at that time.
And their leadership was having a meeting.
a young lad and planted a bomb.
The intention was to wipe them out, to kill them all.
The bomb did go off and did destroy the building.
But the British were able to get out of the
building just before--
no one was hurt-- just before the bomb went off.
There was a feeling of disappointment.
And now that sounds a bit mad now-- looking back and you
were disappointed that people weren't killed.
But I'm talking about how I felt at that time.
I had that naivete that if we got rid of the British, the
world would be great.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: This guy with Gerry is Alistair Little.
Alistair joined the Ulster Volunteer Force, a Protestant
paramilitary organization, before he was
old enough to drive.
He was convicted of murder and spent 13 years in the
notorious H-block of the Maze Prison.
Upon his release, Alastair, repentant for the crimes he
committed, teamed up with Gerry, his former enemy, and
dedicated himself to peace work between the two
ALISTAIR LITTLE: When I was a paramilitary, I didn't care.
I would have done anything.
I'm on record, and it's been published where I would have
wanted to go onto a bus and take all the Protestants off
it and kill everybody on.

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: So when you went to jail, it
was for dong what?
For shooting somebody, right?
ALISTAIR LITTLE: Yeah, There's a number of charges.
But the main charge was going into a house of a a Catholic
nationalist gang, shooting them dead.

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: In Belfast, Protestant and Catholic
communities zigzag across the landscape, often
abutting each other.
If the political murals and flags don't provide enough of
a guide to neighborhood divides, the confused visitor
can simply follow the peace walls, unsightly physical
barriers that, 13 years after the Good Friday Agreement,
still separate communities by religion.
ALISTAIR LITTLE: There's more peace walls exist today than
there was during the conflict.
In the whole of Northern Ireland, there's over 80 walls
and gates that separate communities.
GERRY FOSTER: So the gates are closed, because once it starts
for young people, it only escalates and
gets worse and worse.
So it's easier now just to close the gates at night,
leave it at that.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: And they do close them?
I mean, these are really enormous.
Are they to prevent people from hurling things over?
Petrol bombs?
They increased the height of that because
they were still throwing.
GERRY FOSTER: Still throwing.
GERRY FOSTER: Because the past hasn't really been dealt with
politically, there's still tensions, there's still fears,
there's still suspicions.

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: What's the kind of mix now between those
two communities?
What is the level of interaction, whether it's
people dating one another, kids--
do they see the divide the way that you guys
did 20 years ago?
ALISTAIR LITTLE: In Belfast, in the city center, there
would be more of that now happening among students or
through peace work that's been done through community groups.
In the housing estate that I grew up in, in the early years
of the conflict, if a girl had been going with a Catholic,
they might have been tied to a lamp post and their heads
sheared or a placard put around there--
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: Has that actually happened?
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: That's like Nazi Germany shit.
ALISTAIR LITTLE: Well, especially in Belfast--
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: Shaving heads and--
ALISTAIR LITTLE: If you'd have got a Republican girl or a
nationalist girl going with a soldier, they would have been
tarred and feathered.
So they would have had tar poured over them.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: Let's be clear about is.
That's not a metaphorical thing.
You mean literally tarred and feathered?
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: And that's happened?
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: In a small loyalist enclave nestled
between Catholic neighborhoods and the Falls Road, we came
across a throng of kids stacking pallets for the
evening's pre-July 12 bonfire.
Identifying himself as a former UVF prisoner, Alistair
negotiated our entry into the area.
ALISTAIR LITTLE: It's a commemoration of the Battle of
the Boyne in 1690, King William defeating King James.
So they would have lit beacons all along the way to send a
message, which was just a celebration of that.
It's also very symbolic in terms of identity.
Notice, you can see the flags that they're burning as the
flags of the Republic of Ireland, which is seen as the
enemy or foreign state.

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: You guys aren't going to burn
that one, are you?
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: You're going to burn that one, right?

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: Who's this guy?

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: What's on his head?
Why does he have a penis on his head?
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: He's a wank dog.

Fuck a Pope?
You don't like the Pope?

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: Pope's a dick.
All right.
There we go.
For all the Americans out there, what's the celebration?
Explain it to them.

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: The kids over here are sort of
impregnated with all these phrases.
When you ask them a little more about them, they don't
seem to know what they're talking about.
But they do hate the IRA.
They hate Fenians.
One kid said, don't use "Fenian,"
because it's too nice.
Call them Taigs.
And they really, really cannot stand Catholics.
And the strange thing about it is on every side that you see
here, and even right behind us, are Catholic
And they have a sort of weird siege mentality.
They said people throw petrol bombs, people throw rocks into
the estate.
So I suppose it's a bit understandable.

ALISTAIR LITTLE: One of the difficulties a lot of people
involved in peace work would encounter--
and many don't understand--
is that they ask young people to do things that they're not
prepared to do themselves.
If the conflict gives them a sense of importance, and if it
seems significant as a young person, if there's a sense of
belonging with each other because they're involved in
something special, if they believe that they're standing
up for the community--
all of those things give them such a sense of identity.
When you're asking people to give all that up, there's no
adult would give that up.