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Peace-lines to protest

Posted: October 1, 2012 by mrlukey in Music

By Luke Buesnel

Belfast again finds itself on the brink of a violent uprising; reminiscent of the war-torn-city it was from 1969 to 1997.

Night falls and the city turns form peace-lines to protest, as desperate youths fight the opposing side. It’s the result of the convergence of religion and politics.

Former Irish Republican Army (IRA) senior member and convicted terrorist, Riley Mullan, believes the real issue is the arrogance of the English.

“You have to fight for what you believe in and I believe in an Ireland free of loyalist oppression”.

Mullan and three other IRA members were arrested with a car bomb on their way to the Belfast CBD in the 1980’s. After a 17-year stint at the notorious HM Prison Maze, he now works as a taxi driver and a guide at Coiste Irish Political Tours.

The Good Friday agreement, or peace treaty, was brokered on the 10th of April 1998 and feuding ultimately ceased, until recently.

Peace-lines are walls used to separate the feuding rivals.

Economic hardship has hit countries within the European Union harshly and Ireland hasn’t been immune. The Central Statistics Office of Ireland indicates unemployment has reached an 18-year-high, 14.9%.

Skyrocketing unemployment and austerity sanctions have sparked violent scenes that have become commonplace in suburbs like Ardoyne and Portadown.

It’s a desperate situation that could boil-over into mass carnage. West Belfast became a central fighting point during the civil war. Republicans and Loyalists battled for the disputed land.

Even today it remains a dangerous area to express political ideologies and it’s paramount to never wear the Republican green or Loyalist orange colours, in public.

West Belfast: British army mural, the gunman’s riffle follows passers-by

Although a peace process has been in place since the Good Friday agreement it hasn’t addressed the hostility that remains in Northern Ireland.  As a result a new IRA movement is forming.

Young unemployed people continue to be disillusioned with government, creating a vibrate breeding ground for extremist views to flourish.

The IRA has played strongly on youth disillusionment in the past as a means to recruit future members.

“I couldn’t get a job and when I did I was paid less than the minimum wage. The political movement (IRA) that I joined promised to fix the problem,” Mullan said.

The Irish Republican Army arguably, has noble intent, but anarchy and terrorism as a form of expression, is to the determent of a country facing vast economic and social hardship.

With both sides of the political divide still opposed, a peaceful and united Northern Ireland may not be forthcoming.

“The IRA will do whatever needs to be done for our future,” said Mullan.