The trouble with Northern Ireland

July 13, 2011

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.

The Twelfth of July parades are one such tradition that sparked disturbances on the streets of Belfast this week with rioters throwing petrol bombs and police responding with plastic bullets as Catholics and Protestants once again clashed.

In the last couple of years the rules of engagement as a photographer working within Northern Ireland have changed. Once we were able to cover most situations relatively safely, now the press is increasingly being seen as the enemy and the focus of anger.

During the recent disturbances in Belfast my colleagues and I have been the target of rioters with a friend shot through the thigh and another injured by a plastic bullet.

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