Northern murals and peace trails

 

Sir, – Newton Emerson is generally correct to speak about Belfast murals and the fact many are “at best tawdry reminders of petty hatreds and at worst a way of intimidating nearby residents” (“Belfast’s dreadful murals should be consigned to the past”, Opinion & Analysis, June 20th).

Nevertheless they are fascinating symbols of real sectarian and political undercurrents and perceived history even when they do not represent the majority view in the locality they are placed (a major fault is to assume they do such a thing). However, it is also true that officially sanctioned replacements, while less violent, can be sectarian and celebrating only one side.

While financially rewarding, there are many problems with Troubles-related tourism in Northern Ireland. This is part of the reason why Innate is engaged in a project to develop peace trails all over Ireland – not just the North – to tell the story of people who have worked for peace, justice, inclusion and sustainability. It is working with partners including Afri on this.

It is also engaged in a project to try to tell the story of the role of civil society in the Troubles including trade unions, churches, community and women’s groups and others, and peace trails in the North also fit this role, so that people can know that there were always people struggling, at grassroots and other levels, for peace and for progress. It is not to deny stories of violence but to show another side of the coin.

Innate is happy to conduct peace trail tours of Belfast as an example of what can be done anywhere – the time frame covered goes from the 18th century to today, and there is a motorised tour developed by Emily Stanton covering peacemaking during the Troubles. – Yours, etc,

ROB FAIRMICHAEL,

Coordinator,

Innate (Irish Network

for Nonviolent Action

Training and Education),

Ballynafeigh, Belfast.