Assignment: Food and Drink, Family Entertainment and Faded Memories of Violence

The La Mon hotel and restaurant is located at 41 Gransha road, Castlereagh on the fringes of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The hotel is large, holding 120 luxury rooms, gymnasiums, tennis courts, a putting green and swimming pool.slider-img1

The hotel’s two restaurants are identified on its website as a place for the ‘finest dining’. ‘The Mill’ restaurant serves mostly meat and seafood based dishes with locally sourced ingredients based on British traditional recipes. For dessert at ‘The Mill’ a guest could try a sla-mon-hotel-country-club-newtownards_240320101515443544ticky toffee pudding which originated in the 1970’s in the Lake District in Northern England.


At Jimmy’s Bistro the more traditional dishes of ‘The Mill’ are listed next to foreign dishes like curries, nachos and panini’s. At lunchtime the Bistro offers tea, scones and sandwiches. The website sells its five course carvery Sunday as a family affair, featuring children’s activities such as a jumping castle and face painting. Private functions and weddings are also available as well as dinner dances with Ireland’s 2006 Eurovision nominee Brian Kennedy or alongside a tribute act for Swedish band ‘ABBA.

The Mill

The menu prices suggest middle class locals may visit occasionally for a private, romantic dinner in the countryside, or especially on family days, with family, and the hotel next door indicates that they probably dine alongside tourists and business-people.


However, for all the emphasis on fine dining and carefree entertainment, there is nothing on the hotel website that indicates that this was the site of a 1978 IRA bombing that killed 12 people. The hotel does have a not unkempt memorial garden to those who died, but this looks just like a regular area for smokers, with only a small sign on a seat recognising the incident. For some, apparently the past is best left ignored


La Mon. (2016). Hotels in Northern Ireland | Hotels in Belfast | La Mon Hotel. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 May 2016].

Little, I. (2013). La Mon bombing: A split second of evil… and then they were orphans – [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 May 2016].



Assignment: Could Conflict Reemerge in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland has experienced dramatic demographic change since the end of The Troubles. For centuries Northern Ireland has been a region of Protestant supremacy, however Catholicism’s number of adherents is rapidly overtaking Protestantism’s.

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement that led to 18 years of tense peace between Catholics and Protestants could unravel because a Catholic majority could lead to a renewed push for a united Ireland.

Any ceding of territory to the Republic will be difficult when population geography isn’t uniform. Many Protestants would be displaced

It could still be a decade or more for serious talks about the political status of Northern Ireland to emerge. The 1998 agreement stipulated shared executive powers between the denominations, making change somewhat reliant on their unlikely cooperation. Furthermore, both communities benefit from UK public service jobs and welfare favourable to the area. Moreover, repartitioning Northern Ireland would be extremely difficult in that border changes would be difficult to enforce without displacing many Protestants who don’t want to in the republic.

Even a simplified version of repartition is very hotchpotch. (Green – Catholic Majority, Orange – Protestant Majority)

My values are based around a consequentialist imperative to see the welfare of all people’s promoted as much as possible. A return to paramilitary violence would be terrible for Ireland,  socially and economically. Therefore, I believe that before the republican tide becomes overwhelmingly strong, politicians and community groups must work together to find a solution that can keep both groups from violence.

Possibilities could include building a national identity through cross-cultural institutions, devolving powers to subnational governments to calm republicans by allowing some self-determination, more cross-Ireland cooperation, or staggered border changes over time that would allow Protestants in Catholic majority areas to prepare for their area becoming part of the republic.

Possible subnational devolved bodies

A critical evaluation of this response by an Irishman may find that my view may be too optimistic. It could be that cultural divisions are so strong that nothing but violence and significant repartition of areas into the republic is possible.  

Possible devolved bodies with neutral Belfast



Jacobs, F. (2013). 619 – Is Ulster Doomed? Scenarios for Repartition. [online] Big Think. Available at: [Accessed 12 May 2016].

Assignment: Dark History, Divided Present

The Troubles was a period of violence between unionist and republican paramilitaries and the Northern Irish and British governments. From 1968 to 1998 3,582 people were killed and 47,000 injured.

To tourists Northern Ireland is presented as a place that has moved on from it’s dark tourist attractions. This tourist advertisements slogan is ‘Discover the People’. Those people are presented as smiling faces, proud of their country and keen to discuss history.


However, a shock that tourists may experience is that Protestants and Catholics overwhelmingly continue voluntary segregation. This may be shocking for those who know little of the history of Northern Ireland, believe that peace has eroded divisions over time or were fooled by the above video. This is also very different to the rest of the west where Christian denominations are mostly friendly.

In 2004, 92.5% of housing was segregated. In 2005, 1,500 people were forced to move because of intimidation based on their ethno-religious background. Sectarian schools mean school and university students can go decades without having serious relationships with people of another denomination.


Work environments have now become largely neutral zones, but workers strongly avoid discussing contentious political issues and many still don’t apply for jobs in other communities.

Unionist and republican pride marches as well as flag flying  can lead to escalating tensions.

Tourists may feel disheartened to find such darkness exists among people that share significant cultural and religious heritage and this may cause them unpleasant musings on what it is to be human.

For tourists visiting Northern Ireland it may be a good idea to read into the history of the whole Island and The Troubles. By understanding the historical basis for entrenched tensions, tourists may have a more nuanced view of divisions today that would minimise culture shock. 


Hamilton, J., Hansson, U., Bell, J. and Toucas, S. (2008). Segregated Lives: Social Division, Sectarianism and Everyday Life in Northern Ireland. 1st ed. [ebook] Belfast: Institute for Conflict Research. Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2016].

Hara, M. (2004).Self-imposed apartheid. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 15 May 2016].

Jacobs, F. (2013). 619 – Is Ulster Doomed? Scenarios for Repartition. [online] Big Think. Available at: [Accessed 12 May 2016].