Time to Talk: Peacelines:Bishop Street/Fountain, Derry

I’ve been watching these “Peacelines” for too many years to remember and my heart goes out to those who have to live there. The pictures here show such a peaceful scene in the early October sunshine that you could be mistaken for thinking that life along the line can’t be really all that bad.

Bishop Street, Derry: Catholic side on right: October 2007
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A little bit of sunshine, cars parked everywhere, people walking about their daily business .. surely it must be a nice spot to live? If it was really dangerous sure no-one would be foolish enough to park their expensive cars there … would they?

But I know from personal experience that, even at peaceful times, the odd bottle flies the wall – in both directions. My car has the dent to prove it! So life must be pretty hard for those on the line who are never sure when the next missile will arrive. It must be the constant drip of dread that wears people down. Given that experience ….it’s a wonder that both sides of the line are populated with really friendly people!

The Fountain, Londonderry: The Protestant Side: October 2007

thefountain_oct2007_1.jpg

So what is it really like to life with high fences to protect you? What goes through your mind when the weans go out to play? How does anyone cope with the strain of knowing that the fences can never be high enough to stop determined stone, bottle and bomb throwers? What do those who live with these fences really feel? After nearly 40 years of metal sheeting and wire fences do they really feel any safer now that the Peace Process is so long lasting?

The Peaceline: Bishop Street, Derry, October 2007

thepeaceline_oct2007_1.jpg

Do local people ever see a time when they will feel safe enough to ask for the barriers to be removed or will these wire symbols of our divisions become a permanent feature of our environments?

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