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.
But what becomes apparent to me as William shows me around the pensioner’s bungalow he’s lived in for 12 years is that he’s not expecting an answer to his question. Rather, it’s clear he has become so used to living in conditions that most people would find prison-like that he finds it completely normal.
The pipe bombs, bricks and fireworks that are regularly hurled at these few houses in an otherwise quiet cul-de-sac are so commonplace that they are just part of daily life. This is simply where all William’s friends live, this is his home and he doesn’t seem to notice the oppressive atmosphere created by the huge structures outside his bedroom window.
“The wall should be left the way it is,” he tells me. William says he likes living here and loves the sense of community there is in Cluan Place.