Irish ‘miracle’

Reporters on the Job: It was St. Patrick’s Day in Belfast and raucous. I was lost.

I asked an old man for directions to the Europa Hotel, where I could e-mail my story on the recent tensions here. He looked as lost as I did. He was a 75-year-old Protestant, James Steadman, who had come to town to buy religious books but found himself carried along the St. Patrick’s Day parade route, nudged along by young girls with dyed green hair.

We left the parade and made our way to the Europa and he proceeded to tell me about growing up in Belfast before the “Troubles.” Protestants and Catholics used to live side by side, but when the Troubles began, the map of Belfast was redrawn along sectarian lines.

“It was impossible to imagine peace ever coming from that,” he told me. “Big Ian [Paisley, founder of Democratic Unionist Party] and Martin McGuiness [senior Sinn Féin member] sitting side by side in Stormont. It’s a miracle.”

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