Bestselling author Tony Macaulay was raised at the top of the Shankill Road in West Belfast at the start of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, an experience that has shaped his life. He will read extracts from his new book ‘Belfast Gate’ and share ideas from his discussion paper which proposed a five-phase process for the removal of the peace walls. It is now 50 years since the first peace walls were built, initially as ‘temporary measures.’
It’s Belfast in 2019 and despite more than twenty years of peace, scores of ‘peace walls’ continue to separate Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods. Jean Beattie’s grief turns to anger when the police refuse to open the ‘peace gate’ at the end of her street, to allow her best friend’s funeral through to her church around the corner. The gate remains closed because local youths, led by Sam on one side, and Seamie on the other side, are ‘recreational’ rioting. Comforted by her friends, Roberta, Bridget and Patricia, from the cross-community pensioners club, Jean vows the gate will be opened.
On the fiftieth anniversary of the erection of the peace walls, in the era of Brexit and Trump’s border wall, the themes in Tony Macaulay’s ‘laugh out loud’ novel resonate far beyond Northern Ireland.
Copies of Belfast Gate will be available to purchase on the night.