The city of Derry represents both the healing and conflict that continues to face the people of Northern Ireland. The city has been named the cultural city of Northern Ireland, and as a result has seen an influx of funding for new shops and the maintenance of tourist attractions. It has grown into a bustling city with people shopping and enjoying their city center. These new editions reflect the deep desire most people have to rebuild a peaceful society. But the continued presence of dissident paramilitary organizations reminds me that there is still a long way to go. The community remains segregated with Protestants living on the Waterside and Catholics on the Bogside. The very different narratives both communities are clearly laid out in murals and monuments.
While there has been a progression toward peace, conflict still lingers in the background. The violence that continues to be perpetrated fuels alienation between communities making it impossible for them to move forward in peace building. As we walked around Derry I felt alternatively peaceful and tense and I can only imagine that the citizens experience this on a magnified level. I am left wondering how peacebuilding can truly take root when communities struggle to accept each other’s narratives.