Welcome to my blog. I document my adventures in travel, style, and food. Hope you have a nice stay!

They drink different whiskey

The Shankill and Falls Roads are synonymous with violence and division. Now tour busses run regular hop on-hop off services that take in the political murals, the flags and all the fascinations of West Belfast. In the capital of Northern Ireland, fortified police stations have given way to Open 2008 signs. The numerous cranes are another indicator of good times – building work is everywhere. So too are new arrivals, untainted by sectarian divide. On a recent trip, DDD was intrigued by the Northern Irish twang of a Latin American concierge. With hotels full to the brim, haute cuisine (a Paul Rankin restaurant no less) and a breathtaking coastline fuelling a tourist boom, greater political stability has undoubtedly given rise to economic upturn.

Yet for that boom to last, much more needs to be done. When the two communities drink even whiskey along sectarian lines (DDD understands Catholics tend to shun Bushmills), the scale of the reconciliation process becomes clear.

In many ways the problems that sparked the Troubles in the late 1960s remain the same today. Protestants and Catholics still attend separate schools, and even teachers train separately. No political rapprochement can happen while children of both communities – unionist and nationalist – grow up without conversing with, and learning about, each other.

Then there is the housing issue. If IKEA can come to town, homes need to be built that are fit for its furniture. The beautiful rural hinterlands are littered with grey villages whose houses are markedly scarred by peeling paint and boarded up windows. The union jacks and inciting graffiti that line loyalist areas are an especially queasy sight and it cannot be right to keep up murals promoting the paramilitaries.

There is so much to feel hopeful about in Northern Ireland, but it is issues such as these that politicians of all stripes must address if the province is to truly prosper.

Fascist Lite

On vacation