Last Friday, December 11th, over 400 schoolchildren walked across Belfast, Northern Ireland to express their common Christmas wish: peace.

The students came from seven different schools, for a gathering that wouldn’t have been possible a few Christmases ago. Their parents and grandparents were once sworn enemies.

“We want to play our part in building a better more peaceful future for all.” One boy told reporters.

In other days, Christmas was a time of grief and fear in Belfast. The holiday, which both sides celebrate, brought uneasy ceasefires and the grim certainty that the shootings and bombings would start up again in the new year.

The conflict in Northern Ireland officially ended in the early 2000s, before many of these students were born. The Christmas Peace Walk shows where this generation stands in relation to the dark past. They don’t want to inherit a war. They hope for peace in 2016 (the hundredth anniversary of some violent shit that means a lot to both sides of the conflict.)

“We want to move on,” one girl told UTV , “We don’t want to live in the past.”

Belfast--Christmas--Peace--Walk

Image: Mal McCann, Irish News

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Charles Daly

Charles Daly