The International Wall near the Falls Road in West Belfast has an impressive display of murals depicting social and political issues outside of Northern Ireland. Among them were a “Free Leonard Peltier” mural and a call to hunger strike against Israeli administrative detention of Palestinian political prisoners.
One of the peace walls that separates the loyalist/Protestant neighborhood from the nationalist/Catholic area. Higher up above the art are burn marks from Molotov cocktails that people tried to throw over the wall to the other side.
I’m not going to pretend I fully understand the complicated political and sectarian push-and-pull that led to The Troubles in Belfast. All I know is that, though the past still lingers (or is still very much present in some areas), I fell in love with this city which, to my foreign and perhaps ignorant eyes, looked vibrant and resurgent. It isn’t that I don’t see traces of its violent past/present; they are there, in murals and places of remembrance and buildings damaged and restored. But my feeling is that Belfast is now a city looking to transcend (but not forget) those scars, and its air is electric. I only had the chance to visit the murals on the loyalist side of town and, again, though I could not comprehend the messages behind them, I thought they were beautifully done.