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from Photographers' Blog:

Weapons at hand

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Belfast, Northern Ireland

By Cathal McNaughton

As I was driving home one night after covering civil unrest in Belfast, I looked at the objects sitting on the passenger seat. There was a golf ball and two snooker balls: objects thrown at members of the police and media by rioters.

I decided that it would be interesting to see how many of these items I could collect over the coming months at the various riots that were sure to follow. The idea was interesting but the difficulty was going to be adding some life to these inanimate objects. They ranged from the ridiculous (a ball covered in insulating tape) to the lethal (a petrol bomb and a hammer).

There were some things I could not collect, such as scaffolding and even a bedside cabinet, due to their size and the dangers of trying to retrieve them.

In the end, I got members of the community to hold the items in an attempt to show how everyone, young and old, male and female, is touched by the continued sectarian trouble between Catholic nationalists who want union with Ireland and mainly Protestant loyalists who want to stay in the United Kingdom. The police service here has spent more than £15 million ($24 million) policing parades and protests since April this year and 689 officers have been injured in such disorder since July 2012.

from Photographers' Blog:

The writing’s on the wall

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Belfast, Northern Ireland

By Cathal McNaughton

A five meter high mural of a gunman dressed in army fatigues and a balaclava, clutching an AK-47 painted on the gable end of a wall of a house in a residential street – people walk by and don’t even notice it.

In other parts of the UK and Ireland there would probably be outrage - but not in Northern Ireland, where young children happily play on streets with a backdrop of politically charged murals commemorating the violence and bloodshed of the Troubles.

from Photographers' Blog:

A barrier to peace

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Belfast, Northern Ireland

By Cathal McNaughton

“Sure, why would they want to pull down these walls?” asks William Boyd mildly as he offers me a cup of tea in his home at Cluan Place, a predominantly Loyalist area of east Belfast.

He pulls back his net curtains to show me the towering 20-foot-high wall topped with a fence that looms over his home blocking out much of the natural light.

from Photographers' Blog:

Living without electricity for 29 years

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By Cathal McNaughton

John McCarter is 77 years old and has been living without mains electricity at his home at Downhill, Londonderry county, for 29 years.

It seems incredible that a pensioner who lives so close to the prosperous Causeway Coast tourist area in Northern Ireland is allowed to live in such basic conditions.

from Photographers' Blog:

The trouble with Northern Ireland

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Tradition is something that is celebrated, enjoyed and handed down to the next generation, but in the small corner of western Europe where I was born, it has led to shootings and bombings and the loss of thousands of lives.

For 16 years I’ve worked as a photographer covering ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland and in this time I’ve come to realize that what one side of the political and religious divide sees as celebration, the other sees as triumphalism.

from FaithWorld:

Catholic area riots after Protestant marches in Northern Ireland

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(Nationalist youths and police in riot gear clash in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast July 12, 2011/Cathal McNaughton)

Police fired plastic bullets and water cannon at Catholic youths in Northern Ireland's provincial capital Belfast on Tuesday after rioting erupted when a Protestant parade passed their estate. Sporadic violence erupted across the British-ruled province on the culmination of a season of parades by pro-British Protestants to mark a 17th-century military victory, a tradition many Catholics say is provocative.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Friday

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SOCCER-EURO/SPAINIt’s gone quiet on the football news front though the sun’s still out in Europe as we await another weekend of unrelenting on-pitch drama in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Anyone out there lucky enough to be attending the Serbia v Northern Ireland match? 240 fans got the nod.

from Left field:

Don’t discount Ireland for the Six Nations

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RUGBY-NATIONS/
By James Illingworth

The 2011 Six Nations kicks off shortly in Cardiff with much of the pre-tournament hype suggesting a two-horse race between France and England.

England's favourites tag among English bookmakers looks unjustified if it is based on one decent performance in November against Australia, with the 2010 grand slam winners France surely still the team to beat.

from FaithWorld:

Catholic Church and UK colluded in Northern Ireland bomb cover-up: report

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northern ireland (Photo: Nationalist youths set a car alight in Belfast on July 13, 2010/Cathal McNaughton)

The British government and the Roman Catholic Church colluded to protect a priest suspected of involvement in a 1972 bombing in Northern Ireland that killed 9 people, an official report said on Tuesday.

The Police Ombudsman's report revealed that an Irish cardinal was involved in transferring Father James Chesney out of British-ruled Northern Ireland, highlighting again the role of the Church hierarchy in protecting priests against allegations of criminal activity.

from UK News:

Closer ties, but different political colours

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Second only to body language, the colour of a politician's tie can speak volumes.084

Northern Ireland's political leaders are particularly careful about the message they send out in a community in which green represents the mostly Roman Catholic aspiration for a united Ireland and orange symbolises centuries of Protestant affinity to British rule.

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