It’s Belfast in 2019 and despite more than twenty years of peace, scores of so-called peace walls continue to separate Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods.
Jean Beattie’s grief turns to anger when police refuse to open the peace gate at the end of her street to allow her best friend’s funeral procession through to her church on the other side of the peace wall. The gate remains closed because local youths, led by Sam on one side and Seamie on the other, are recreational rioting. Comforted by her friends Roberta, Bridget and Patricia from the cross-community pensioners’ club, Jean vows the gate will be opened.
Author Tony Macaulay was inspired to write Belfast Gate through his work with a cross community women’s group at Forthspring Intercommunity Group. Forthspring has been quietly breaking down barriers across the peace line in West Belfast for the past 20 years. It’s situated on the peace line on the Springfield Rd just across the road from where Tony’s father grew up. The group meet in the old Springfield Rd Methodist Church building, where his father went to Sunday school.