In the weekend travel section of the Financial Times, Simon Kuper writes a only-in-Northern-Ireland article, about the economy of Belfast’s murals.
For Kuper, it’s a fine example of cross-community work, where ex-combatants from both sides of the wall, literally, cooperate in their guides for tourists.
I confess that when I first visited Belfast, about 20 years ago, I did take a stroll up the Falls and down the Shankill. It wasn’t the murals that I was so interested in, but the people who painted them. I remember a brief and pleasant conversation I had with a young woman putting some finishing touches on a loyalist mural.
I’m not going to slate anyone’s effort that brings employment and material benefits to a community, but there is something perverse about disappointing all those tourists if the walls come down. That is, there’s now an economic incentive to keep the walls up.
There’s so much more to see in Belfast, and I hope at least these taxi operators are taking these tourists to parts like Belfast Castle, the Titanic Quarter, and the scenery around Shaw’s Bridge. If you’ve experienced one of these taxi tours, tell me about it!