A Stunning night for the Gaza soccer kids

The Gaza soccer team were guests of honour at a Galway United FC game in 2016. Photo courtesy of Sean Ryan. http://sportsphoto.ie/

An underage soccer team from Gaza are on their way to Ireland this summer and you can play your part in getting them here by joining a late night party with members of The Stunning in Galway on Sunday, July 22 (11pm).

Fresh from their Galway International Arts Festival gig at the Big Top on the same night, the members of the band are putting on a night of tunes and nostalgia to celebrate with their fans and friends into the early hours.

All proceeds from the gig at Massimo, William Street West, go to the Gaza Kids to Ireland project and there is a suggested donation of €10 on the door.

The boys from the Al-Helal Football Academy captured the hearts of many Galway people when they visited Kinvara over the past two summers and it would be incredible if their trip to Ireland could become an annual event.

The boys were also delighted to meet the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, when they attended a game between Galway United and Dundalk FC at Eamonn Deacy Park in 2016, when the entire main stand gave them a sustained round of applause.

The Stunning were formed in Galway in 1987. Lead singer Steve Wall recalls his formative student years in the city when he got involved in various causes, including the divorce referendum, a protest against US President Ronald Reagan, and the global boycott of South Africa during the Apartheid years.

“In many ways, Galway formed us. There was a sense of creative freedom and artistic adventure in the place that definitely had an effect on the band we became.  Galway was also home to a lot of misfits, which I loved,” says Steve.

“Galway students were very outspoken. I saw the importance of making your voice heard and saw the changes that were made possible in doing so. Look at the recent referendums and how people rallied together. I believe that if you feel something is wrong, then you need to do something about it instead of expecting others to do it on your behalf.”

Steve says he has been appalled by the disregard for human rights and international law which has gone on in Palestine over the years. He feels it’s important to use his platform as a musician to speak out against injustice.

“The blatant ethnic cleansing of a nation is happening before our eyes and the silence of the world is a disgrace. So I try to do whatever I can to keep their plight visible and to highlight what’s going on,” he says.

“Even if it means just letting my friends know on social media that a local supermarket is selling Israeli potatoes then it’s something. The international boycott of South African goods had a huge effect on the ending of Apartheid, but it seems harder to get the world to react to the destruction of Palestine.”

He points out that 1.9 million people are living under siege in Gaza, a tiny strip of land which has been described as an open air prison and is just 6% of the size of Co Galway.

Members of The Stunning will take turns on the decks at Massimo to spin some of their favourite tunes, but they will get the opportunity to mix with old friends following their Big Top show at the Fisheries Field. The Big Top show starts at 8pm.

Support at Massimo comes from acclaimed Galway ‘indie’ DJ Foz, who will start the party while the members of the band are making their way over to the gig from Fisheries Field.

The entire Gaza Kids to Ireland project is organised and funded by volunteers. Given how appalling living conditions are in Gaza, this soccer trip is seen as a huge morale-booster for the talented young soccer players and their families.

Footballers in Gaza are regularly harassed at checkpoints, prevented from travelling, and forced to cancel games. The Al-Helal ground in northern Gaza, where the boys play their home games, was bombed by Israel in 2012 and again in 2014.

Children in Gaza are among the most traumatised in the world. Many of the Al-Helal boys were emotionally scarred by the 2014 Israeli military assault on the Gaza Strip, in which more than 2,250 Palestinians, including 551 children, were killed.

But football coaches and rival teams in Ireland have been amazed by the spirit and skills of the Gaza youngsters, who are looking forward to returning to Ireland to represent their country with pride.

Your €10 donation can help make this trip happen. Doors open at 11pm.

You can also find out more or donate towards the cost of bringing the children to Ireland at http://gazaactionireland.ie/

 

Ends…

Palestinian human rights advocate seeks support for ‘settlements’ ban

Palestinian human rights defender Shawan Jabarin

By Ciaran Tierney

One of the leading advocates for human rights in Palestine is visiting Ireland this week to urge members of the national parliament to support a bill which would ban Israeli ‘settlement’ goods from the country.

Shawan Jabarin, Director General of Al-Haq in the West Bank, is set to tell parliamentarians that they have a legal obligation to ban settlement products under international law.

He believes that the private member’s bill currently before the Seanad could set a precedent for countries all across Europe.

Mr Jabarin will meet members of the Dail and Seanad on Wednesday (tomorrow) to urge them to support Independent Senator Frances Black’s bill which calls for a prohibition on goods and services from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“Palestinians have a right to exercise self-determination, just like any other people all over the world. They have a full right to live in peace in their land, to have sovereignty over their natural resources, and I do believe that Palestine is a test for all of the human rights principles of international law,” he said, prior to the Dublin meetings.

“We are not asking anyone to do that for ethical reasons only, but to do it according to their legal obligation. My main purpose in visiting here is to encourage the parliamentarians to vote in favour of the motion before the Irish parliament about the settlement products.”

Senator Black’s bill is set to be opposed by the Government, as Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said that Ireland would continue to support action at a European Union level which differentiated between ‘settlement’ goods from the West Bank and goods from Israel.

The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 would make it illegal to purchase goods and services from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in the Republic of Ireland.

“It’s not enough to say that Ireland is part of the EU and that we have a common market and common rules. It’s not enough to say that the EU took a decision to label and differentiate the settlement products. Labelling settlement products without a vision to ban them is not enough,” said Mr Jabarin.

“Why do the Governments put the responsibilities on the shoulders of the customers? The governments have a legal obligation, according to international law. According to the European law, these settlements are illegal.

“The Israelis are benefitting, with the settlers expanding their presence, deepening the occupation every day in Palestine, and pillaging our natural resources. This bill means supporting the rule of law, justice, and the legal obligations of Irish parliamentarians.”

Shawan Jabarin met with Deputy Noel Grealish TD, a member of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs committee, in Galway

Mr Jabarin, who leads the oldest and best-known human rights organisation in the West Bank, studied international law at the Irish Centre for Human Rights (ICHR) in Galway in 2004-5 and feels a deep connection with the Irish people.

He was honoured with a ‘Student of the Decade’ award by NUI Galway in 2008, but was unable to travel due to a travel ban imposed on him by the Israeli authorities from 2006 to 2013.

Instead, he had to accept the award via a video link from Ramallah.

“I am here to advocate for justice, rule of law, the rights of victims, and the principles of international law. Palestinians are suffering now because of the lack of implementation of and respect for all of these principles. There is a lack of political will to proceed and push for the implementation of these principles,” he said.

“Our people are suffering due to double standards and because there is no implementation of these principles. I look at the Irish Government and people as friends, who suffered for centuries from injustice themselves, and they know well what it means to be in a situation like that, what it means to be persecuted.”

Mr Jabarin said that the illegal ‘settlements’ were widely seen as the biggest barrier to peace in Israel and Palestine, which is why the bill currently before the Irish Seanad was so important in terms of setting a precedent for other European countries.

“Moving Israeli citizens to the occupied territories is a war crime, according to international humanitarian law and the International Criminal Court (ICC) statute. So why let the criminals profit from their crimes? Why open your markets to them?”

“We are seeing what’s going on in Gaza. They are shooting to kill. They are shooting civilians because they are demonstrating peacefully about their rights. Our message is that the international community has a legal obligation to act, to impose sanctions on Israel, to use all political, economic, and diplomatic means.”

Mr Jabarin (left) gave a talk at the Irish Centre for Human Rights in Galway on Friday. He studied there in 2004-5.

Mr Jabarin said he was determined to tell the Irish politicians that every country in Europe had an obligation to cooperate with the ICC.

He has urged them to investigate the spate of shootings in Gaza over the past two and a half months and also to be mindful of the persecution and harassment Palestinians in the West Bank face every day.

“The people of the West Bank feel that everyone has left them, that the Israelis are punishing them and persecuting them. What’s going on in the West Bank is the worst form of Apartheid. It’s worse than what’s happened in South Africa under the Apartheid regime,” he said.

“Just imagine. People cannot visit their city, Jerusalem, as they cut off the city from the rest of the occupied territory. Families are separated. Tens of thousands of families are split up because the Israeli authorities don’t let them get together in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and outside.

“They are targeting the fabric of our society, to destruct the Palestinian communities, and separate them from each other. At the entrance of each city, town, and village, there are military gates which Israel can close off at any time. They are dealing with us as if we are prisoners everywhere.

“They have cut thousands of families off from each other in Gaza and the West Bank. There are families who haven’t seen each other for years and they cannot get a permit just to go and visit family members. They have moving checkpoints for no reason, just to pressure people, to humiliate people. It’s Apartheid and colonisation.”

Mr Jabarin said that the Israeli authorities were trying to silence those who criticise the occupation, including Al-Haq.

But he believed that the smearing of human rights organisations in both Israel and Palestine would not deter them from undertaking their work on the ground.

“Human rights are not a job. We believe strongly in what we do. I know one main thing. We will not give up what we do. We will not step back. We will continue our struggle for justice and the rule of law to the end. Until this occupation ends, we will not give up,” he said.

“I put hope in the international community. My big hope is in the public. The public can make the impossible possible. The public can change everything. Each one of us can do something to stop this oppression and this injustice and this horrible regime and occupation, and to stop these horrible crimes and human rights violations against Palestinians.”

 

A vigil in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Galway on Monday. Galway City Council adopted a motion calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions of Israeli goods.

Find Ciaran Tierney Digital Storyteller on Facebook: http://facebook.com/ciarantierneymedia

 

Leading Palestinian human rights activist to speak in Galway

Palestinian human rights activist Shawan Jabarin

A leading Palestinian human rights activist who was prevented by the Israeli authorities from travelling to Galway to receive an award eight years ago is set to give a talk in the city tomorrow (Friday, 5pm).

In 2010, the Israeli authorities refused permission to Shawan Jabarin to travel to Ireland to collect a “distinguished graduate award” from the Irish Centre for Human Rights (ICHR) at NUI Galway.

Mr Jabarin spent a year studying international human rights law at NUI Galway in 2004-5, but was not allowed leave the West Bank in order to collect the award which was part of the ICHR’s tenth anniversary celebrations.

A director of the Palestinian human rights non-governmental organisation, Al-Haq, he has been subjected to administrative detention without trial, travel bans, torture, and death threats for his work as a human rights defender and activist.

He will speak at NUI Galway tomorrow about the Great March of Return, Israel’s assault on Gaza, and the loss of over 120 Palestinian lives since the protests began more than two months ago.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been protesting along the border fence with Israel to mark the 70th anniversary of the ‘Nakba’ (‘Catastrophe’), demanding their right to return to the homes and land their families were expelled from 70 year ago.

The establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 saw an estimated 750,000 Arabs being removed from their homes, land, and villages.

The mass demonstrations have taken place every Friday for almost three months. At least 120 Palestinians have been killed and more than 13,000 people wounded by Israeli soldiers in the tiny coastal enclave which is home to 1.9 million people and is smaller than Co Louth.

Mr Jabarin is Director General of Al-Haq, the largest and oldest Palestinian human rights organisation.

He will tell the Galway audience about the mass protests in Gaza and the response of the Israeli military, including the use of lethal force against unarmed protesters.

In what promises to be a fascinating talk, he will also talk about ongoing attempts to hold Israel to account for its violation of international law in the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories).

This timely and important talk takes place at the Seminar Room, the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway, tomorrow (Friday) at 5pm.

  • This talk is open to the public and, according to the ICHR, all are welcome!

Does Pope Francis owe the Irish people a full apology?

Laying flowers to remember the Magdalene Laundry women in Galway last month

Over the past few years I have met some amazing people, survivors who have shown how the human spirit can triumph despite so many obstacles placed in their way.

Some of them were locked up in Magdalene Laundries.

Others were locked up in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, had to survive on very little food, and were told they were “bastards” when they went to school.

It’s hard to get a good shot at life if you were branded as “illegitimate” and treated as a second class citizen from the moment you were born.

Others I have met have family members among the 796 “Tuam Babies”.

They are being stonewalled in their search for the truth and denied compensation for the horrific pain and abuse they suffered earlier in life.

These people, and many other Irish people, have been treated appallingly by the Roman Catholic Church.

When Pope Francis visits Ireland, he does so as the head of an international organisation which facilitated the abuse of Irish children and blocked the Irish authorities from finding out the truth afterwards.

Does he owe us an apology?

Not to mention a huge amount of compensation for the survivors?

My latest blog post was used as an opinion piece for Irish Central at the weekend:

https://www.irishcentral.com/opi…/pope-francis-irish-apology

The forgotten ‘undocumented’ Irish in America

 

The anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping across the United States has increased fears of deportation among the undocumented Irish

Remember the ‘undocumented’ Irish?

They don’t face the taunts, the sideward glances, or comments that they should go back to their own countries from strangers in public places.

They don’t stand out, like immigrants from some of the poorest countries on earth, because of the language they speak or the colour of their skin.

But that doesn’t mean that their lives are not characterised by fear, worries, or regrets that they cannot go home to visit elderly parents without turning their lives upside-down.

It is estimated that there are up to 50,000 of them, the ‘undocumented’ Irish who mostly moved to the United States in the 1980s or 1990s in order to escape a recession and lack of opportunities back home.

Many of the undocumented now have American children, but they would face three- or even ten-year bans now if they left the United States (even on a holiday) and then tried to return.

They try to stay under the radar, avoiding risks such as getting pulled by the police on the roads at night or attracting attention by reporting break-ins at their homes.

This week, for the Irish Central website, I spoke to a leading campaigner for immigration reform who told me about the fear which swept through Irish communities in places like New York, Boston, and Chicago following the election of President Donald J. Trump in November 2016.

As Trump marks the end of his first year in office, it’s impossible for these “illegals” or “undocumented” Irish to avoid the anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping across the US.

Now, more than ever, they see a need to keep their heads down and they are no longer campaigning vocally for a change to their status.

Senator Billy Lawless, the Galway native who represents the Diaspora in the Irish Seanad, fully admitted that the undocumented Irish were in a predicament of their own making.

During the decade after the Great Hunger, almost two million Irish people emigrated to the United States.

One suspects that, if Donald Trump was in power at the time, many of the impoverished Irish immigrants would have been turned away at the ports after their long voyages across the Atlantic.

You can read the full Irish Central article at this link …https://www.irishcentral.com/news/politics/no-light-undocumented-irish

After the border row, do the Irish need to ‘get over themselves’?

The Brexit row has led to concerns that a hard border may be reintroduced between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

It is amazing how little the Irish border featured in the Brexit referendum debate in the United Kingdom last year, even though the result of the vote will have a huge impact on so many lives.

Relationships between our two governments have been tense over the past couple of weeks and yet a British TV presenter felt a need to describe the entire affair as a “kerfuffle”.

Are the Irish an over-sensitive lot? And, in the United Kingdom, are we generally just an afterthought or an irrevelance?

The recent row over the implications Brexit will have on the Irish border has opened up old wounds.

It has also underlined just how little the Irish border communities featured in the debate before the vote across the UK last year.

I have heard people in Britain marvel over the fact that we share a common language, with no understanding that there was a deliberate campaign by our British ‘masters’ to wipe out the Irish language over two centuries.

I have heard people urge Ireland to leave the European Union and rejoin the UK, with no knowledge of the long history of oppression and colonisation by the British Empire in Ireland.

Last week’s online debate following unfortunate remarks by a Sky News TV presenter prompted me to write an opinion piece for Irish Central, which was published this morning.

The border was not something the Irish people wanted. It led to a bloody civil war, partition, and discrimination against the Catholic minority in the six counties for well over four decades.

Respect works both ways. One land cannot seem to forget its past, and the other sometimes shows that it knows nothing about it.

 

It is actually shocking that British people think the Irish should have no opinion on the implications the Brexit vote will have on the border and, indeed, all of our lives.

You can read my Irish Central article in full here:

https://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/others/do-the-irish-need-to-get-over-themselves

Honouring the memory of Manuela Riedo

Shane Lennon with Manuela’s parents, Arlette and Hans Peter

Few Galway people will ever forget the terrible news on that day in October 2007.

The body of an innocent, fun-loving Swiss student, who had left home just days earlier to study English, was found by the city’s railway line. She had been raped and murdered.

The entire city was numb.

Like so many students before and since then, Manuela Riedo came to Galway because it was such a safe city.

For her parents, Arlette and Hans Peter, there seemed little to worry about when their daughter left home on her own for the first time to attend a language school in the West of Ireland.

Their grief must have been unimaginable when word filtered back about the fate of their only child.

Few could have predicted at the time that out of such desolation such strong friendships could emerge.

But, thanks to the dedication and hard work of people such as Shane Lennon and Eoin Durkin, the Riedos now have life-long friends in the City of the Tribes.

They have returned to Galway 16 times since a concert was held in their daughter’s memory in 2009.

Now, thanks to the hard work of the Manuela Riedo Foundation, a new educational programme is being rolled out at schools across Ireland.

Manuela’s memory is being immortalised to thanks to the core group of people who have done so much to heal terrible wounds.

I interviewed Eoin and Shane last weekend. You can read my piece about the Manuela Riedo Foundation here: https://www.irishcentral.com/news/community/galway-remembers-young-student-who-was-raped-and-murdered-on-first-trip-away-from-home

To find out more about the Manuela Riedo Foundation, you can check out their website at http://www.manuelariedo.com/

The late Manuela Riedo by the banks of the River Corrib in Galway

 

Abortion – a bitterly divided Ireland?

A section of the huge crowd at the recent ‘Repeal the Eighth’ march in Dublin city centre

This week I was commissioned by a US website, Irish Central, to talk to both sides of Ireland’s bitterly divisive abortion debate.

With the country set to go to the polls in a referendum next May or June, campaigning has already begun.

It was a difficult piece to write, as I did not want my own personal views to interfere with the interviews I carried out with activists on both the pro-choice and anti-abortion sides.

The issue is particularly poignant in my native Galway, where the death of Savita Halappanvar five years ago sent shock waves across the globe.

Savita was denied a termination which could have saved her life and who can forget the image of a medic at University Hospital Galway telling her that “Ireland is a Catholic country”?

A veteran pro-choice activist pointed out to me that Ireland was now a completely different country compared to when the current legislation was enacted in the early 1980s.

She said that homosexuality and gay marriage had been legalised, Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby homes had closed, and divorce had also been introduced since then.

“This is something that belongs in a by-gone era,” she said. “Women used to come up to us and cry at our street stall in Galway city centre. Things have changed, but people might still be unwilling to wear ‘Repeal the Eighth’ jumpers in more conservative small towns or villages.”

It is also striking to note the differing demographics at the huge ‘Repeal the Eighth’ and ‘Pro-Life’ marches which took place in recent months in Dublin.

Members of the younger generation seem to be far more in favour of changing the current legislation if one is to judge by the turn-out at the marches.

Yet I was also struck by sincerely views are held by those I spoke to on the anti-abortion side.

Tommy Roddy, who campaigned for Marriage Equality, shows that it’s too easy to stereotype people who campaign to keep the eighth amendment.

“I have even had arguments with friends of mine over this issue,” he said.

“There seems to be this assumption that if you were in favour of gay marriage, for example, that you must be pro-choice. I was criticised for my pro-life views in the General Election, but my view is that there is a pro-life culture here in Ireland.”

Thanks to all four for speaking to me honestly about their convictions.

Given how sensitive this issue is, I really hope there is a clean campaign free of personalised abuse over the next eight months or so.

You can read the full article here:

https://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/others/a-bitterly-divided-ireland-weighs-the-abortion-question

To hire a journalist / blogger, find Ciaran Tierney on Facebook: http://facebook.com/ciarantierneymedia

Second toughest at the Irish Blog Awards!

Journalist and blogger Ciaran Tierney on his last day at work at the Connacht Tribune on September 30. 2014. He came second in the Blog of the Year awards on Thursday night.

When I took voluntary redundancy from a regional newspaper three years ago, I decided to set up a personal blog.

I had no idea what was coming next in my life, but I knew that I loved to write and I saw a regular or occasional blog as a great way of communicating my thoughts and feelings through this crazy journey called life.

Given my own personal demons at that time – sudden unemployment, illness, uncertainty about the future, fear – seemed so universal in an extremely unequal Ireland, it just kind of morphed into a political blog.

Many people feel that the gross inequalities currently on show in Irish life are not always adequately reflected in our mainstream media. Which is why bloggers can play an important role!

I had already written a travel blog – called Ciaran’s Gap Year – during a wonderful career break from the Connacht Tribune and I loved the experience of being able to chronicle my travels through Thailand, Nicaragua, and Spain in 2010.

Little did I think in 2014, when I began scribbling on a reasonably regular basis, that my blog would make such an impact that I’d find myself alone but very happy among strangers at a glittering awards ceremony in Dublin on Thursday night.

Over the three years since, I have touched on issues such as homelessness, Irish neutrality, mental health, Palestinian and Syria human rights, post-conflict Northern Ireland, and our appalling treatment of asylum-seekers, enjoying the sheer freedom which comes with writing a weekly or occasional personal blog.

Through the blog, I have met wonderful people such as Catherine Corless, who broke the ‘Tuam Babies’ scandal; African taxi-drivers, who have been subjected to appalling racism; and survivors of institutional abuse.

The blog has clearly struck a chord at times, sometimes reaching up to 30,000 ‘hits’ thanks to social media shares by people such as Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan MEP, Belenus (of Call for a Revolution in Ireland), and the team behind Broadsheet.ie.

One blog post about 1916 even earned me a regular gig as a paid contributor to Irish Central, the biggest news site for the Irish community in North America.

It was written in anger, after two columnists at the Daily Telegraph dared to compare the 1916 rebel leaders to ISIS.

A night for celebration

So last Thursday was a night for celebration. I had reached the final of the V by Very Irish Blog of the Year awards and it was delightful to receive such recognition from my peers.

It was only when I got to The Academy that I realised the scale of the achievement. Although hardly anyone in the Dublin blogging community knows me, I was one of 5,000 initial entries who were whittled down to just a few dozen finalists.

I was thrilled to come second in the Current Affairs category, and I was also blown away by the quality and broad range of blogs and bloggers who made it to the final.

So congratulations to An Sionnach Fionn, who beat me to first prize in the Current Affairs (Personal Blog) category. And to the team behind Slugger O’Toole, winners of the corporate prize.

Congrats also to The Gastro Gays, who won the Blog of the Year award.

I survived three rounds of judging to make it to the final and the prize has given me a huge boost as I continue to adjust to life as a former newspaper journalist.

Thanks so much to everyone who has supported both me and my blog during a period of transition and even crisis in my industry.

And, remember, if you do want to hire a blogger – I have written about a huge variety of subjects over the past 25 years – there’s one available right here out in the wild west, on the Wild Atlantic Way.

I also hope to continue ranting about injustice in Irish society. Now, more than ever, Ireland needs writers with integrity. On Thursday night, I was delighted to see that there are quite a few of us about!

The silver medal award from the V by Very Irish Blog of the Year awards

Buzzing Belfast learns to leave its troubles behind

A mural in West Belfast, August 2017. Photo; Ciaran Tierney Digital Storyteller

A few weeks ago, I got a chance to spend three wonderful days in Belfast. It was my first visit to the city in 21 years.

When I was last there, civil servants from the Republic were seen as “legitimate targets” by loyalists as they worked on the peace process which led to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Nobody in the city ventured out late at night and the centre used to become deserted after about 7pm.

The visible scars have been removed and I found a city, with so much to offer, which has been radically transformed for the better.

It may still take some time for the less visible scars to heal.

The watchtowers, lookout posts, and British Army bases have been removed but, sadly, people in the nationalist and loyalist communities seldom cross the divide.

They may not mix as much as they could, at work, school, play, or in the sports they follow, but everyone seems pretty united in terms of how much better life is today than it was during The Troubles.

One of the people I interviewed, Una Murphy, recalled an occasion back in the 1990s when her mother was shocked to see two tourists outside City Hall.

“The phone rang and my mother was in awe, she said she had just seen two Japanese people with cameras outside City Hall,” recalls Una, with a smile. “In those days, tourists never came to Belfast.

“I came back to Belfast around the year 2000. It has taken a few years, but you can really notice the difference now. It’s normal to see so many tourists walking around the city center and we have had more cruise ships than ever in the harbor this year. During The Troubles, nobody really wanted to come here.”

Nowadays, the red open-top busses are full of tourists, the Titanic Quarter is pulsating with energy, and former paramilitarys bring the curious on walking tours of the “hot spots” on the Shankill and the Falls Road.

Read my latest travel feature for Irish Central here: https://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/others/buzzing-belfast-is-learning-to-leave-its-troubles-behind-photos