The European Capitol of Terrorism: Belfast - VICE Travel - Part 2 of 4

Uploaded by vice on 02.11.2011


MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: Militant unionism in Belfast is
localized in two communities--
the Shankill, a mile and a half road that lies just
around the corner from the Catholic Falls Road, and the
hyper-British Protestant enclaves of East Belfast.
In the 1970s, the Shankill was ground zero for loyalist
paramilitaries, famously home to the Shankill Butchers, a
bloodthirsty group of killers that targeted random Catholics
for torture and execution.
And in 1993, the IRA blew up a chip shop on the Shankill,
killing nine Protestants.
Today, both the Shankill and East Belfast
are relatively peaceful.
The locals are friendly and accommodating.
But with these monuments and murals celebrating Ulster's
contribution to World War I, and more threateningly,
various Protestant paramilitaries, it can feel
like an earlier, uglier decade.
Alastair introduced us to Rab, a very connected and very
influential guy in East Belfast who attempted to
explain the palpable anger we were witnessing so many years
after the Good Friday agreement.
RAB: Unfortunately, on these interface areas, on both sides
of the fence, you know, it hasn't moved
on for these people.
Because one stone, one brick is too much.
There's no peace process for these people.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: We were talking to Alastair, and he
was saying that this kind of stuff is not the kind of
laundering of the 12th.
But it's to make the 12th more of a family type exercise,
more for the kids, more looking towards
the history of Ulster.
Whereas it's trying to get away from something like this,
which is more sectarian.
I mean, what do you think of that?
RAB: Well, I think they're here.
If we went back five or six years ago, you'd have had
[INAUDIBLE], and you'd have shows of strength.
And you would have had all types of different
paramilitaries at these here bonfires
having a show of strength.
You know, them days is well gone.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: For those who aren't from Northern
Ireland, taigs are Catholics?
RAB: Yes.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: So kill all Catholics.
That seems pretty provocative.
RAB: It does.
But whenever you go to the backdrop of what's happened
here over the last couple of weeks, I mean, you have to
remember from the Catholic church across the road there,
there was actually three shots fired.
There was actually a newspaper photographer that was shot.
And there was two individuals from this community who were
also shot and wounded.
So that's just sort of a direct response to
that, I would say.
There was no shots coming from the marcher's community.
The young people wouldn't be, you know, getting back to that
sort of rhetoric again of kill all taigs
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: On the ground in East Belfast, we
were a long way from the language of the peace process.
Officially, paramilitary activity is an unwanted relic
of the past and danger to the future.
But in working class, Protestant, and Catholic
neighborhoods throughout the city, we heard endless tales
of attacks by sectarian enemies and the worthlessness
of the police force.

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: We were quietly told earlier in the
day that it would be inadvisable to show up at
certain bonfires uninvited with a camera crew in tow.
So we went with Rab to a bonfire in his neighborhood.
He cleared the way.
And everyone, we soon discovered, listened to Rab.

FEMALE SPEAKER: We're rocking it.

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: Rab took us into the local community
center to listen to the bands warming up for tomorrow's
parade and pumping up the crowd with songs celebrating
their British-ness.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: The bonfire organizers seemed to be
experienced in the art of Molotov cocktail production.
And they generously allowed me, after a bit of pleading,
to take part in the burning of this tower of flags, political
posters, and symbols of Catholicism.
I do want to point out that there's a big canister of
petrol right there.
Everybody seems to be OK so far.
But I'm anticipating a major accident and major burns.
But it's all for William of Orange.

It's like [INAUDIBLE].

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: My first Molotov cocktail, or petrol
bomb experience was a bit anti-climactic because it was
kind of a shitty throw.
But they lit it while they were explaining
how to throw it.
It just was on fire.
I had to get rid of it.
Everywhere we turned, there were gasoline cans just inches
from enormous, terrifying fires, kids full of cider
falling off of flaming pallets.
But it was a friendly drunken crowd, a happy celebration
amongst tribal peers.

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: But this was the night before the July 12
march, a warm-up for the main event.
The real action would be tomorrow, the day of Northern
Ireland's most contentious parade when Protestants march
and, in a few areas of the city, Catholics try to
confront them.
And all of this only weeks after another major flare-up
of sectarian violence in Belfast.