"Think before you speak." Northern Ireland Tip by leics
Northern Ireland, Belfast: 1 reviews and 5 photos
I first wrote this tip in 2010 to reiterate what other VT-ers had written about the Troubles.
I'm updating it in 2016 for the same reason.
What happened during the period we call 'The Troubles' is still raw. The peace is less fragile now, perhaps, than it was when I first visited in 2010, but it is still fragile. There are still occasional killings and there are still bomb attacks, whether the bomb explodes or is found before exploding (52 such attacks during the 12 months leading up to May 2016). A pipe bomb was found when I visited in August 2016, though it did not explode.
The whole issue is still unutterably painful for many, many people. Listen, learn, observe, read....and, if the situation seems right, ask. And then listen again.
Please don't just jump in, asking intrusive questions and assuming that all this is past history and long-forgotten. In August 2016 I observed a cruise ship passenger doing just that in Derry. The situation was uncomfortable enough for me, let alone for the Derry local (not a guide) who was being questioned.
Note that you'll be just as safe exploring the city and the province as you would be anywhere else in the UK. There is no need whatsoever to worry about that aspect.
So, whatever you might think you 'know', keep it to yourself until you are sure that the situation is right. By all means ask questions of your guide: it's their job to answer questions and not be phased by them. But, in all other situations, be considerate and thoughtful.
People need time to fully heal, to move forward, to make a better life for their children. They don't need to answer your questions, nor to engage in political debate with outsiders...... and, however well-intentioned you may be, you do not have the right to risk re-opening old wounds.
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