Religion as a Feeble Excuse
The only sign for current troubles I recognized when we stayed in Northern Ireland was the closed gate in the 'Peace Line' when we made the sightseeing tour through Belfast.

There were of course those murals, the cameras and statues everywhere remembering the people, what had happened and probably still is happening.

The trip from Dublin to Belfast was also impressive. I had expected a 'real' frontier with strict controls but there was nothing like that. Without the coach driver's comment I wouldn't have known that we had left Ireland and entered Northern Ireland. Obviously there are also strained relations between Ireland and Northern Ireland as he even made a detour in Belfast because of the Irish number plate on the bus which would have caused inconveniences in some areas on the direct way.

There was of course always the 'theoretical' knowledge that Northern Ireland lives in civil war. However, it was also no problem to see the state as it was: with a wonderful landscape, nice cities and people living normal lives.

I didn't feel insecure there or was afraid to become a victim of the troubles. Most of the time I didn't remember the fact of troubles. Northern Ireland didn't fulfil my expectations of a state in war: There were no holes because of bombs, damaged houses (except some broken windows) or anything like that.

However, the fact that such a civilized state still lives in troubles makes me very angry and I don't have any sympathy for it. I don't believe that religion is still the real reason for the troubles but only a feeble excuse. No religion in the world tells its followers to wage war on other religions (which reminds me that Catholics and Protestants have the same belief, in general!) or kill other people as cruelly as for example on Bloody Sunday, I am sure.

I think that Northern Ireland is nowadays a relatively peaceful state but the people are always living in danger of experiencing troubles again. I really hope it will end soon!

Silke Schneider

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