Title: The Troubles. Belfast 1980s - 1990s
Photographer(s): Andrew Moore
Edited: Craig Atkinson
Publisher(s): Café Royal Books, Southport, England
Size: 14 x 20 cm
Nation(s) and year(s) of Protest: North Ireland, 1980-1990
“In July 1986, I visited Belfast for the first time. I wasn’t in the best of health, physically or mentally, and hadn’t picked up a camera for months. Earlier that year, I’d been attacked by the police while covering the News International dispute at Wapping, sustaining serious head injuries that left me in intensive care. Recovery was taking longer than I’d anticipated and I needed a break from London.
Initially nervous, I walked and talked my way through the city, slowly getting my bearings and a sense of place. Everywhere I went, the ice was broken by people asking about the still visible wounds to my head — in Nationalist areas, the assumption was that I must have been hit by a plastic bullet. I felt at home, and by the the end of that summer I’d regained a lot of the confidence that had vanished following the attack.
I returned the following year, but a turning point came in March 1988 with Michael Stone’s infamous gun and grenade attack on mourners in Milltown Cemetery. By chance, I was the only photographer with a small group of mourners who made the decision to try and capture Stone. I looked through the viewfinder with a sense of disbelief as they relentlessly ran into gunfire — more than sixty people sustained shrapnel wounds, but all three of the dead came from this group, shot at close range. If I had any doubts about the importance of covering the situation in the North of Ireland, they disappeared that day.
From my first visit in 1986 to my last in the summer of 1998 (the year of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement), I was treated with endless kindness by the people of Belfast, even when they were at their most vulnerable. Unlike some, I believe that the peace will hold in the post-Brexit landscape. Politicians, on both sides of the Irish Sea, might not inspire confidence, but the people do.”