I went on a 3 hour walking tour that has given me a lot to think about- a lot to digest.
It was raining and cold- but at. I time could o leave or turn away. It was amazing and engaging and challenging.
Political Tour-Conflicting Stories is a tour like no other. It is conducted in two halves. For the first you walk with an ex IRA active member and prisoner. In this case it was Robert.
Robert was clear and articulate and gave his story. He talked about his time in prison. He pulled no punches but he was not bitter.
I’ve walked these roads before but to do it with a local and one who lived through the things I’ve read about.. was an experience I’ll carry for ever.
They then hand you over for the second half with someone on the ‘other side’, - in this case an ex high ranking British Soldier.
Mike was very different to Robert, obviously a previously career military man. He had a different story to tell. It made me think - I’ve never heard it from the British side.
We walked the Falls and the Shankill streets of West Belfast. We talked specifics and not generally. I got an in depth look from the other side that I have never got. It could only come from them.
What was crystal clear from both these men was that they want peace and they they do not wish to ever return to the way it was before the Good Friday agreement.
They are committed to working with the young people.
How do you remove a wall though when there are so many tragedies and hurts within living memory on both sides. It will take time. It is still a divided city in many respects.
I heard horrific stories from both sides, I thanked them both, for their honesty and their commitment to telling a story that needs to be told. For their commitment to going forward not back.
Do not miss this - rain hail or shine.