In a city still scarred by political and religious divide, Belfast-born Patrick and Davy, Catholic and Protestant, have found great friendship through their love of the Belfast Giants ice hockey team. Their weekly podcast, ‘A View From the Bridge’ encourages their listeners in the hope that ‘In the land of the Giants everyone is equal’. A glimpse into their story prompts us to the wider consideration of how religious identity has ‘at all times and in all places’ been a force for good and for evil.
across the divide
Davy: I’m proud of where I come from.
Patrick: There will be an aspect where you have to decide.
Despite their friendship, both struggle to think of other friends who are from a religious background different from their own.
What are your reflections on the binding characteristics of religion, setting and culture – the good, the bad and the ugly?
Sport has the ability to unify people more than anything else.
Whatever your love (or not) of different sports, how true do you find this?
How do other things such as arts and culture, compare?
Doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what your nationality is, your orientation, the strapline still is ‘In the Land of the Giants everyone is equal’.
Does this say something about progressive religion?
Is equality something we can achieve? How far have we come?
You’re always going to have people who… still want to identify with the extremes, the silent majority don’t want that, and that is where Belfast has progressed.
What leads to such progress in your experience? Is movement generally away from extremes in our society?
When the two go back to their different communities they choose whether to ‘pick up the bag’ of their different identities. What baggage do we carry that might cause separation or the illusion of separation between us?
For over 55 years, Corrymeela has been a place of gathering, work, faith and discussion; bringing people of different backgrounds, different political and religious beliefs and different identities together. Working with schools, communities, families, Corrymeela’s mission is to ‘transform division through human encounter’.
‘Fifty Years On: The Troubles and the Struggle for Change in Northern Ireland’ by Malachi O’Doherty, published by Atlantic Books, 2019
‘Reporting the Troubles: Journalists tell their stories of the Northern Ireland Conflict’, ed by Deric Henderson and Ivan Little, published by Blackstaff Press, 2018
‘The Good Friday Agreement’, by Siobhan Fenton, published by Biteback Publishing, 2018