Youth Of Belfast – Brexit And The Peace Process
The Peace Agreement of Northern Ireland was signed 20 years ago which means that young people of today never experienced the so called „Troubles“ themselves. Regarding upcoming Brexit there is a serious concern that violence could break out again.
Northern Ireland will have to leave the European Union due to UK’s Brexit referendum in 2016 although a majority of its citizens voted to remain. While the local Protestant Unionists voted to leave, the Catholic Irish Nationalists wanted to remain in the EU. After almost 30 years of conflict a fundamental condition of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement is the open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
This frontier will become an external border of the European Union after Brexit again. There is a serious concern that such a hard border is very likely to undermine and threaten the Peace Process in the country. Especially future prospects of the young generation could be impacted negatively if old conflicts recur again. Nevertheless, the great majority of this generation was not allowed to vote in the referendum because of their nonage.
The photo essay shows that kids in Belfast often suffer similar problems in daily life like unemployment, drug crime and violence – no matter if they live on one or the other side of the „Peace Wall“l that separates communities and the society of Belfast till today. Therefore, it is not surprising that the voting behavior in the referendum went very hard along the confessional lines. And although the majority of the young- sters from traditional working-class neighbourhoods doesn’t have any contact to people from „the other side“, they want to overcome the old patterns. And live a peaceful life without violence and walls as they know it from other parts of Europe.
The documentary accompanies teens in six different, both Protestant and Catholic districts over a period of 16 months and several visits. Whatever the effects of a Brexit will be, it‘s very likely that there will be victims of it on both sides of the walls.