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Preserving memories of the past?

April 2, 2008

I was in a taxi from Belfast International AIrport this morning and as we came in we passed a police station – no longer surrounded by wire fences and watch towers. I suggested that at least one (see picture) should be preserved as a heritage site so that we could all remember how bad things were. His view was different, he wanted them all wiped out to get rid of the memory. Now I still think I am right. Not only is the security architecture in places like Antrim and elsewhere a key part of our history, but the imagery of its physical presence is more effective than a history lesson.

The degree of change here since turn of the century is massive, and more noticeable if you only visit from time to time. In the old days walking the streets of Belfast was an interesting experience. I still remember in 1976 being told it was not safe for me to go out because I looked like a Protestant; I was in a catholic area at the time. I still remember that vividly, including the terrible wallpaper in the room, as it was said with deadly seriousness. Now Belfast is a vibrant developing city with an occasionally competent rugby team which has failed to stand up un recent years.

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