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Thread: Cluan Place

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    Default Cluan Place

    Here is an article from the Independent, I have not reproduced it in full:

    Belfast confetti

    Short Strand is a Catholic enclave within a Protestant area. Residents on either side throw anything from golf balls to car jacks over the 'peace wall' that divides them. David McKittrick asks what this small-scale conflict says about prospects for long-term peace

    Wednesday, 25 September 2002
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    George was sitting in his armchair having a drink when the republican bullet zinged in through the window, bounced off the sill, whizzed just over his head, and went through a lampshade before lodging in the wall.

    George was sitting in his armchair having a drink when the republican bullet zinged in through the window, bounced off the sill, whizzed just over his head, and went through a lampshade before lodging in the wall.

    George had the most convenient drinking system I ever saw. He had a pub Optic mounted on the wall beside his armchair, holding an upside-down bottle of Smirnoff. Below it stood a bottle of diet Coke. Replenishing his vodka was a simple matter of extending his arm and pushing the glass upwards. The bullet narrowly missed not only George's head but also these customised drinking arrangements.

    Until the gunman opened fire, it was a cosy routine in Cluan Place, a comfortable street in east Belfast. But it has the geographical misfortune of being a single Protestant street next to the Catholic Short Strand area – when trouble broke out it suddenly became a war zone.

    Today, the scene is horrendous. Many of its roofs have been wrecked, while doors are barricaded with wood, wire or metal. Glass crunches underfoot, while paint-splashes and other stains are everywhere. The little street has become a shocking mess, descending from cosiness to dereliction in just a few months. Only four of its original 24 families are still there, living behind wooden ramparts that cast most of their homes into perpetual twilight. A sign says: "Burned out by IRA scum." Another asks: "Whos under seige – them or us?" (Protestant graffiti contains so many misspellings that nationalist educators joke about running "literacy for loyalists" classes.)

    One end of the street has become a loyalist shrine, bedecked with Ulster flags and paraphernalia. Many of the shattered roofs sport loyalist paramilitary flags, many of the grilles have been painted red, white and blue, and bits of bedraggled bunting have been strung up. While this may provide colour, it all adds to the sense of wreckage, dereliction and cheerlessness that makes visitors wish they were somewhere else. The message on the wooden sign is entirely appropriate: "Welcome to hell."

    George (not his real name) is one of the few determined to see it through. His close encounter with a bullet was some months ago but, he said, "I'm still not right yet with my nerves. It's going to take a long time to settle down. I'm losing weight – I was almost a 36-inch trouser waist, now I'm almost down to a 32". He is also missing sleep, but despite it all, remained capable of flashes of humour: when I remark that the bullet had missed his vodka, he replied with a smile: "I'm telling you, if it hadda hit that, I'd have been over the wall right away myself, jumping over."

    George, who is 61 and has angina, has left this house, but rather than moving out of harm's way has shifted only a few doors down the street. He said proudly: "I've spent over a thousand pounds on the new house, I'm trying to put my mark on it." Why doesn't he just leave? His answer is couched in territorial rather than personal terms: "The Catholics are expanding but they've nowhere else to build. They always wanted this bit, always." How does he know this? "That's been the story for years, passed down from one to the other."
    Continues here.

    This is a YouTube video about the cul-de-sac:


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    This is a very moving story. The people of Cluan Place are obviously very proud of their British heritage and will not be moved from their loyalties. Good for them for not laying down and kudoes to them for their courage.

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