Since the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ended its 13-day truce with British security forces in Northern Ireland on Sunday, July 9, -- vowing to resume terrorist activities with the "utmost ferocity" -- the province has been described as a tinder-box capable of sparking off a civil war at any time.
GV Shankill Road, Belfast (2 shots)
GV PAN Great Victoria Street wrecked building in centre of city
CU Bomb blast wreckage TILT UP to wrecked Lombard Street and man sweeping broken glass
GV TRAVEL SHOT devastated area in belfast
CU and MV UDA masked UDA guard on barricade and Uda landrover patrol through barricade(2 shots)
CU, SV PAN AN GV soldiers in street and on patrol -- watched by children and shoppers(4 shots)
GVs troopship in docks, troops disembark and landrover offloaded(4 shots)
MV PAN AND GV convoy of lorries and jeeps away(2 shots)
GVs British troops into position as Catholic crowds storm army line in violent demonstration(2 shots)
MV Soldiers firing ribber bullets PAN TO GV Saracen armoured car ramming lorry with furniture
GV PAN Catholic demonstrators throwing stones
Initials OS/1615 OS/1634
This Visnews film, shot by Cameraman Tony Green, gives a vivid impression of life in Belfast, and includes shots of the violent Catholic protests that led to the ending of the ceasefire.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Since the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ended its 13-day truce with British security forces in Northern Ireland on Sunday, July 9, -- vowing to resume terrorist activities with the "utmost ferocity" -- the province has been described as a tinder-box capable of sparking off a civil war at any time.
In Belfast, the tensions, deepest hostility and strife between Roman Catholics and Protestants have transformed everyday life into a burden that is hard to bear. It shows in the faces of the people. Three years of sectarian turmoil has ravaged the city. Its heart is sealed off by security forces. Main streets are strangely devoid of traffic. Shops are boarded up and traders are being forced out of business.
Bomb damage is extensive. There have been hundreds of explosions and shooting incidence in the past year alone. Hardly a street seems unscathed. And so far, nearly 30,000 claims have been submitted to commercial insurance companies and government compensation agencies for property damage -- with a price tag of more than GBP50 million.
Many sections of the city have been declared "no-go" areas. Streets are blocked by concrete and corrugated iron barricades. At the Protestant no-go areas, masked and uniformed men of the para-military Ulster Defence Association search every vehicle and check the identity of every person coming into the areas.
The UDA has its own motorised patrols and radio units and claims it can rally 25,000 men in Belfast within 30 minutes.
The activities on the barricades -- whether Protestant or Catholic -- are watched guardedly by security forces who have set up command posts at virtually every strategic point in the city.
Now, armed soldiers have become an accepted part of daily life -- so much so, that children are often to be seen playing at their feet. Not infrequently, the children re-enact the battles of the past....throwing stones at each other in side streets, snipping with wooden rifles from doorways.... even dragging each other to make-believe first-aid posts. For when they are 16 years old, many are considered mature enough to man the barricades or be incorporated into the junior ranks of the IRA and UDA.
So far, the politicians, military officers and pundits have been unable to find an answer to the strife, and the Westminster Government's response has been to send more troops to the province to cope with the inflamed situation.
During the ceasefire, the troops played a decidedly low-key role. But with the eruption of renewed violence, they are back on the streets again in force -- caught between the Catholic and Protestant fences.
And for the time being, at least, any hope of relief from the tension seems remote.