I was sitting in an Irish bar in Belfast when an old fat man with a beard said to me, “It’s not Londonderry, it’s Derry. And never say Northern Ireland.... it’s North of Ireland.” I was surprised and I wondered too. Do the Irish see differently?
As far as I can tell, the Irish are very proud people. Not only proud of their culture, but also their unique deliberative process of decision making of their country. After 30-year conflict between Irish Republican Army (IRA) and pro-British unionists that claimed more than 3,700 lives, on April 10, 1998, the Good Friday Agreement was signed in Belfast. This treaty marked the end of “The Troubles” and they agreed to share power in Northern Ireland among the governments of Ireland, Britain, and Northern Ireland’s political parties.
Before peace came to Belfast, there were no tourists and locals avoided to go to the downtown or city center after dark. Although Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital has transformed in a decade and a half, but apparently Northern Ireland is still dealing with a past and conflict that cast a shadow over the present: the conflict between Catholic and Protestant communities, the “peace walls” that separate between Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods, drugs and other social ills, and more than 20 percent of the population lives in poverty.
Even worse, when UK decided to withdraw from the EU, it might shatter the fragile peace between Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland. On the other hand, the post-Brexit border issue has raised another political issue.
While I was traveling in Northern Ireland, I became immersed in Irish culture and history. These images are intended to portray the existent representation of Belfast from its complex reality and from my perspective, as a stranger.