Conflict & Justice

Northern Ireland's Troubles a part of Belfast's landscape (PHOTOS)

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Two nights in a row of riots in Belfast, Northern Ireland — the most intense such violence in several years — are largely being blamed by authorities on members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the Guardian and other news outlets report. In 1994 the UVF and other Protestant paramilitary groups, including the Ulster Defense Association (UDA), agreed to a cease-fire declared by the IRA. However, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "disagreement within the UVF over the cease-fire led to a split in the organization and the formation of the Loyalist Volunteer Force, which began its own campaign of violence. In May 2007 the UVF renounced violence and pledged to end its armed campaign." (Kristian Hildonen)

Credit:

Kristian Hildonen

During two nights of sectarian rioting in Belfast, Northern Ireland, hundreds of masked youths hurled bricks, bottles and gasoline bombs. Three people were left with gunshot wounds.

Catholic and Protestants rioters threw rocks, fireworks and petrol bombs, and a press photographer was shot in the leg.

Northern Ireland police believe the loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Volunteer Force instigated the violence.

GlobalPost's Conor O'Clery writes that the sudden eruption of street riots in Belfast has shocked those who thought Northern Ireland had entered a new era of peace and reconciliation.

Kristian Hildonen took these photos of murals in Northern Ireland during a visit in March.

The AP filed this video report on the latest violence.

  • ulster_volunteer_force_northern_ireland_6_22_2011.jpg

    Two nights in a row of riots in Belfast, Northern Ireland — the most intense such violence in several years — are largely being blamed by authorities on members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the Guardian and other news outlets report. In 1994 the UVF and other Protestant paramilitary groups, including the Ulster Defense Association (UDA), agreed to a cease-fire declared by the IRA. However, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "disagreement within the UVF over the cease-fire led to a split in the organization and the formation of the Loyalist Volunteer Force, which began its own campaign of violence. In May 2007 the UVF renounced violence and pledged to end its armed campaign." (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

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    The violence comes around the time of traditional, and provocative, parades by pro-British, protestant marchers — also known as Orangemen — through Catholic neighborhoods, NPR reports. (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

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    According to the Irish Times: "The sudden upsurge in violence is being described as the worst the city has seen in years and loyalist community workers blamed simmering tensions at the notorious sectarian interface. But other observers blamed rivalries inside the UVF, fuelled by anger at restrictions placed on contentious parades, plus the efforts of police to investigate crimes from the Troubles as part of an ongoing review of cases by the Historical Enquiries Team." (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

  • ulster_division_northern_ireland_6_22_2011.jpg

    Two nights in a row of riots in Belfast, Northern Ireland — the most intense such violence in several years — are largely being blamed by authorities on members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, The Guardian and other news outlets report. (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

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    A UDA/UFF mural in Belfast. Since the Northern Ireland cease-fire, the UDA has been accused of taking vigilante action against alleged drug dealers, including tarring and feathering a man on the Taughmonagh estate in south Belfast. (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

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    A crossing point in the so-called Belfast Peace wall. The wall, over 20 feet high in parts and stretching for miles, separates unionist area of West Belfast, known as The Shankhill, from the nationalist Falls Road area. (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

  • bobby_sands_northern_ireland_6_22_2011.jpg

    This mural depicting IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands - an icon of Irish Republicanism - is painted on the side of the Sinn Fein headquarters on the Falls Road, Belfast. Sands, who was elected a Sinn Fein lawmaker while imprisoned in Longkesh jail, staged a 66-day hunger strike in 1981, ultimately dying for the Republican cause on May 5. (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

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    Loaded imagery on the wall of Belfast's main fire station, which like many public buildings in the city bears the remnants of semi-permanent military occupation, like barbed wire and electronic surveillance. (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

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    A humble Irish pub takes on a militant theme. This one is along the Falls Road. (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

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    UFF (Ulster Freedom Fighters) member Jackie Coulter was killed by the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force), a rival loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. The UVF's declared goal during The Troubles was to destroy Irish republican paramilitary groups, however more than two-thirds of its 481 known victims were Catholic civilians. The UVF has more recently been accused of vigilante action against alleged criminals — drug dealers, mainly — in Belfast. (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

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    The BBC's Mark Simpson said of the current riots, "there is a loyalist pro-British paramilitary faction called the UVF who seem to want to cause a lot of trouble at the moment." However, the Irish Times reported that "dissident republicans [in other words, the "other side"] were responsible for the gun shots which wounded a press photographer during serious rioting involving up to 400 people in east Belfast last night, police said." (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

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    A UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) mural. The UVF takes its name was from a Protestant force organized in 1912 to fight against Irish Home Rule. The group dedicated itself to upholding Northern Ireland’s union with Britain at all costs, and at the outset of The Troubles, quickly announced its intention to kill members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). However, it also murdered unaffiliated Roman Catholics, Protestants, and even members of its own and rival paramilitary groups, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

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    This mural is a commemoration of an IRA bombing of a fish shop on the Shankill Road. (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

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    A commemoration of UDA (Ulster Defence Association) member William McCullough. The UDA is a loyalist paramilitary and vigilante group formed in 1971 and active during "The Troubles." It used the name Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) when it wished to claim responsibility for attacks, allowing the UDA to remain a legal organization until August 1992. Though the group's declared goal was to defend loyalist areas from attack, it has been classified as a terrorist group in the United Kingdom. The UDA were often referred to by their Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) rivals as the "Wombles", a reference to furry fictional creatures from a children's TV series of the same name. (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen

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    Belfast is, after all, the birthplace of the Titanic, and reminders of the city's industrious past appear side by side with the ever present political messages. (Kristian Hildonen)

    Credit:

    Kristian Hildonen