As troubles cast long shadow, Brexit stakes are high in Northern Irelandâ€™s border city
As troubles cast long shadow, Brexit stakes are high in Northern Irelandâ€™s border city
- Title: As troubles cast long shadow, Brexit stakes are high in Northern Irelandâ€™s border city
- Date: 18th October 2019
- Summary: NEAR RANDALSTOWN, NORTHERN IRELAND, UNITED KINGDOM (OCTOBER 15, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF SHEEP GRAZING IN FIELDS SIGN READING (English): "LONDONDERRY" / 'LONDON' COVERED WITH SPRAY PAINT LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND, UNITED KINGDOM (OCTOBER 16, 2019) (REUTERS) VIEW OF CITY ROOFTOPS VARIOUS OF MURALS ON BUILDINGS VEHICLES DRIVING ALONG ROAD NEAR MURALS VARIOUS OF MURAL READING (English): "YOU ARE NOW ENTERING FREE DERRY" VARIOUS OF WRITING OUTSIDE HOUSES READING (English): "IRA" MURAL FEATURING PERSON WEARING GAS MASK / WRITING OUTSIDE HOUSES READING (English): "IRA" OUTLINE OF REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND ON MURAL WOMAN WALKING PAST MURAL FEATURING PERSON WEARING GAS MASK VARIOUS OF MARTIN MCGAVIGAN, WHO GREW UP IN ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY CATHOLIC AREA OF BOGSIDE IN LONDONDERRY, LOOKING AT MURAL FEATURING HIS SISTER ANNETTE, A VICTIM OF THE CONFLICT MURAL OF ANNETTE MCGAVIGAN (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARTIN MCGAVICAN, WHO GREW UP IN BOGSIDE AREA OF LONDONDERRY, SAYING: "Annette got out of school earlier that day. She was at senior school and got out early that day. Annette and a few of her mates were down, there was rioting over the Little Diamond (area of the Bogside) and Annette went down to see what was going on and stuff. There was, as I say, heavy rioting and the army had fired onto the crowd. And Annette, the crowd starting running away and Annette was running away and she was shot in the back of the head and fell." GRAFFITI ON BUILDING BEHIND RAILINGS / REPUBLIC OF IRELAND FLAGS FLYING OUTSIDE HOUSES REPUBLIC OF IRELAND FLAGS FLYING OUTSIDE HOUSES VARIOUS OF SIGN READING (English): "HARD BORDER, SOFT BORDER, NO BORDER #IRISHUNITYNOW" VARIOUS OF LONDONDERRY NATIVE RICHARD MOORE HOLDING RUBBER BULLET THAT WAS FIRED AT HIM BY A BRITISH SOLIDER WHEN HE WAS 10-YEARS-OLD LEAVING HIM BLIND (SOUNDBITE (English) LOCAL RESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF CHARITY CHILDREN IN CROSSFIRE, RICHARD MOORE, SAYING: "My children, you know, never really experienced the conflict the way I experienced it, they were born well just around the time that peace was beginning to visit this part of the world. And now they're engaging with politics in a way that's pretty negative, in a way that I thought we'd all left behind us. And young people are facing the same challenges, and what you would be worried about is, you know, all the arguments that were presented for many years to support the peaceful approach and reject violence, all those arguments now will be lost really and the people who want to support violence can justify or attempt to justify what their approach." LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND, UNITED KINGDOM (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) BUILDINGS IN PROTESTANT NEIGHBOURHOOD STENCIL ON WALL SHOWING UNION JACK, LOYALIST FLAG AND LONDONDERRY COAT OF ARMS WRITING ON WALL READING: "UFF" (ULSTER FREEDOM FIGHTERS) WRITING ON WALL READING: "LONDONDERRY WEST BANK LOYALISTS STILL UNDER SIEGE NO SURRENDER" LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND, UNITED KINGDOM (OCTOBER 15, 2019) (REUTERS) GRAFFITI ON WALL ILLUSTRATING LOGO OF LOCAL LOYALIST YOUTH GROUP ROAD CURB PAINTED IN UNION JACK COLOURS VARIOUS OF UNION JACK PAINTED ON BUILDING EXTERIOR OF LOCAL YOUTH CLUB SIGN READING (English): "CATHEDRAL YOUTH CLUB" PAINTING ON WALL READING: "UDA" (ULSTER DEFENCE ASSOCIATION) MAN WALKING OUTSIDE YOUTH CLUB (SOUNDBITE) (English) JEANETTE WARKE, CO-FOUNDER OF CATHEDRAL YOUTH CLUB, SAYING: "Yes we are concerned about it. I mean, we're quite happy being part of the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and we're quite happy being Northern Ireland. But as well as that you know, we've no problems going over the border ourselves to the south, but we really want to stay in our own Northern Ireland and be part of the United Kingdom, and that's the way we feel. I mean, letâ€™s face it, If it's not broken, why fix it? And we have good community relations with people over the border. Through the youth club here I do a lot of cross-border programmes with Catholics and there's never no problem." LONDONDERRY CITY CENTRE / CIVIC HALL IN BACKGROUND CLOCK ON CIVIC HALL SIGN ON TOP OF CIVIL HALL INDICATING DIRECTIONS OF NORTH AND SOUTH VARIOUS OF LOCAL RESIDENT, CARITA KERR, READING DURING A CROSS COMMUNITY WOMEN'S BOOK GROUP GATHERING WOMEN READING (SOUNDBITE) (English) LOCAL RESIDENT, CARITA KERR, SAYING: "Maybe I'm just trying to be optimistic about it, but I think at times that is blown out of perspective, that they (militant groups) are not as important maybe as they think they are. That is not to say that they don't and can do a lot of damage as they have done. But as Meara said, we came through it before and we don't want to go back to anything like that, and that's the troubling thing about it because we're a nation of two peoples in this part of the world and somebody is going to not like what happens. So you end up almost back 20 to 30 years ago, where they won't accept it or they won't accept it. It's almost intractable." BORDER BETWEEN BRIDGE END, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AND COSHQUIN, NORTHERN IRELAND, UNITED KINGDOM (OCTOBER 16, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF SIGN ON ROAD CROSSING BORDER READING (English): "NO HARD BORDER" LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND, UNITED KINGDOM (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF COURTHOUSE WHERE CAR BOMB EXPLODED IN JANUARY SIGN READING (English): "BISHOP STREET COURT HOUSE" VARIOUS OF DAMAGE ON ROAD AND PAVEMENT LEFT BY CAR BOMB VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING ALONG 'PEACE BRIDGE'
- Embargoed: 1st November 2019 07:58
- Keywords: Northern Ireland Londonderry Brexit European Union Good Friday Agreement Ireland
- Location: LONDONDERRY AND NEAR RANDALSTOWN, NORTHERN IRELAND, UNITED KINGDOM / BORDER BETWEEN BRIDGE END, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AND COSHQUIN, NORTHERN IRELAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- City: LONDONDERRY AND NEAR RANDALSTOWN, NORTHERN IRELAND, UNITED KINGDOM / BORDER BETWEEN BRIDGE END, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AND COSHQUIN, NORTHERN IRELAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Government/Politics,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001B1MIUDJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Just a few kilometres from the border with Ireland, the people of Northern Ireland's second city of Londonderry know exactly what is at stake as Britain seeks to seal its departure from the European Union.
Almost 50 years ago, the city became the centre of Northern Ireland's conflict, referred to as the "Troubles", when British troops shot dead 13 unarmed civilians during a civil rights demonstration on what became known as Bloody Sunday.
More recently, it has been the focal point of a rise in the kind of violence that still stunts progress in the British-run region.
The conundrum Brexit negotiators hope they have solved with Thursday's (October 17) draft divorce agreement was how to secure Britain's orderly withdrawal from the EU without erecting checkpoints along the 500-km (300-mile) border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Many fear that a return to a visible 'hard' border could undermine a 1998 peace accord which mostly ended three decades of bloody, sectarian conflict that left some 3,600 people dead.
When agreeing the deal, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that peace was what really mattered.
That is a sentiment shared by Derry native Richard Moore, who was blinded at the age of 10 when a British soldier fired a rubber bullet at him as he ran home from school, just a few months after Bloody Sunday.
"My children never really experienced the conflict the way I experienced it, they were born just around the time that peace was beginning to visit this part of the world," said Moore, who founded a charity to help children in impoverished countries.
The Good Friday Agreement settled the conflict between mainly Catholic Irish nationalists seeking union with Ireland and predominantly Protestant unionists wanting to remain part of the United Kingdom, creating a shared regional government and handing an economic lifeline to many.
But not everyone supported the peace deal and small hold-out militant groups still stage sporadic gun and bomb attacks. Recently, the city has witnessed an upsurge in violence, particularly among Irish nationalist youths in some of its poorest parts of the city they call by its former name, Derry.
Few in the city predict a return to the kind of bloodshed of the past if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal and checks re-emerge in or around the border. However, those who lived through the decades of conflict do not want to put the fragile peace to the test.
"I think at times that it is blown out of perspective, that they (militant groups) are not as important as maybe they think they are," said Carita Kerr, who is in her 70s, at a cross-community women's book group for Catholics and Protestants.
But that is not to say that they could not do "a lot of damage," she added.
In 'The Fountain' area of Londonderry, a tight, fiercely pro-British community that is separated by high walls and fences from the surrounding Irish nationalist heartland, there is also a fear that any changes could lead Northern Ireland on a path to another referendum - this time on the reunification of Northern Ireland with Ireland.
"We've no problems going over the border ourselves to the south," said Jeanette Warke at the Cathedral Youth Club, a centre she set up in 1972 with her late husband to try to keep Protestant children away from violence.
"But we really want to stay in our own Northern Ireland and be part of the United Kingdom and that's the way we feel. If it's not broken, why fix it?"
(Production: Gerry Mey, Iona Serrapica)
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