Sounds like a long pilgrimage back on my footsteps, I know, but I can't avoid remembering.. I came to Northern Ireland over twenty years ago. It was the beginning of the end of the Trouble, the fight, the killings.. In fact the subject of the story I was to shoot for Atlante magazine was the idea of going back visiting this region, open it to international contacts, help healing the wounds.. The reality was still tense: I was stopped on a country road at dusk by English soldiers who checked my passport. The officer told me "welcome to the UK!".. I said "It's a warm welcome to Ireland.." he looked at me and said "..a very warm welcome indeed!"
Well, it's a different story now. No border crossing with the Republic, flocks of Irish coming here to shop thanks to a weaker Pound, and many tourists visiting the region. And visiting even Belfast that in those years was not even worth a few hours stop. The city is improving, offering services and sightseeing. The Titanic construction dock has become a tourist attraction itself.
But, more surprising on how history redefine itself, there is even a tour to the political murals that signed the territory, and were in fact a warning to where you could go only if you belonged to a certain group. The community just sponsored a project for new murals, this time dedicated to history and peace, to disguise the wary message that the old images keep reminding.
A need probably stronger then what it looks at first sight. The divisions where, and still are, in the poorest areas of the city. The feeling is that a crisis could easily restart a fight among these guys that still shows loyalist and republican tattoos on their arms.. And the economic crisis of these times, badly felt in here, could be a dangerous ignition..