February 8, 2003 at 12:00 am #16893
I have family in Northern Ireland and visit there a couple times a year regularly. I have family in small rural hamlets as well as some of the meanest West Belfast estates. I think you would do well by remembering the famous sign I always see at bars: 'No Religion, No Politics.' Not that their situation won't ever come up in conversation, but make sure it's a native who does so. An outsider's understanding of this complicated and deepseeded conflict can be insulting and demeaning to people that have grown up with it and live with it. I know I couldn't see the point in the conflict for years (and many in NI agreed with that) but I always played it low-key and listened.