Northern Ireland: Life inside The Fountain

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Life in Ireland's 'The Fountain'
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Life in Ireland's 'The Fountain'
Trevor Temple hangs his laundry at his home in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A CCTV camera is seen on the perimeter of an interface or Peace wall surrounding the loyalist Protestant enclave known as The Fountain that separates it from the rest of the nationalist community in the city centre of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
Brothers, Andrew Gillon, 11, and Christopher Gillon, 12, play pool in the Cathedral Youth Club in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
The gatekeeper closes the gate of the Interface or Peace wall that encloses the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 13, 2017. The gate is locked at 9pm every night. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
Street lights partially illuminate bunting in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A woman walks past the Interface or Peace wall separating the loyalist Protestant enclave known as The Fountain from the rest of the nationalist community in the city centre of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
Political items collected by William Jackson are displayed in the tower, in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A lampshade depicting a Union Flag is lit up inside a home in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A golf ball and petrol bombs that were collected by William Jackson are displayed in the tower, in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
Abandoned houses stand in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
David Jordan fills his kettle with water at his flat in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
Gasmasks which were used during the "Troubles" and collected by William Jackson, hang in the tower in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A sign for Fountain Street is seen in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
Jeanette Warke M.B.E., 73, speaks on the phone inside the Cathedral Youth Club that she runs in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A dog looks out onto a street with many derelict houses in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A mural showing the Red hand of Ulster and a street kerb painted in the Union colours are seen along the perimeter of the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A woman and child walk past a fake door mounted onto a derelict house in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
William Jackson stands in his back garden which is along the peace wall in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A rainbow is seen behind an Ulster flag hanging in the street in the loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A general view of the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A plastic picture of a window is mounted onto a derelict house in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A girl rides a scooter in the walled-off loyalist Protestant enclave called The Fountain situated within the city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
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LONDONDERRY, Northern Ireland, Oct 5 (Reuters) - William Jackson remembers the exodus vividly, when over 10,000 Protestants fled the west bank of Londonderry's River Foyle for the city's suburbs as Northern Ireland's "Troubles" erupted.

Almost 50 years on Jackson is among some 250 Protestants who stayed and carved out a tiny enclave known as 'The Fountain', a tight, fiercely pro-British community that is separated by high walls 5

and fences from the surrounding Irish nationalist heartland.

"You are not talking one or two families, you are talking hundreds and hundreds and hundreds," Jackson said, recalling the flight which began in 1969 when British troops were sent to the city to quell unrest over a civil rights campaign launched by the Catholic minority.

Three decades of bloodshed followed between Catholic Irish nationalists, seeking to unite with Ireland, and pro-British Protestant loyalists, who want to remain part of the United Kingdom.

Around 3,600 people were killed before a 1998 peace agreement.

Much of Northern Ireland has since been transformed, yet in many areas the two sides remain separated by so-called "peace walls." The fences of up to 15 meters set up in the years after 1969 were supposed to be temporary but many still remain.

In The Fountain, the metal gate in the wall between it and the nearby Bogside area - home to the late Irish nationalist hero Martin McGuinness - is locked at 9 p.m. each night and it remains one of the province's flashpoints when sporadic violence breaks out.

"We stayed here because we're hardcore," said Jackson. "We managed to stay as a small community and it's always been that way. Nationalists wouldn't be welcome to live here, even today. Just the same as Protestants wouldn't be made welcome in the Bogside. It's just one of those things unfortunately."

Social codes are so ingrained that it is virtually unheard for people to spend time in the opposing community's neighborhood but anyone who did could face threats or a beating from local hardliners.

"Outsiders," as locals refer to Protestants not originally from the area, have moved in but only last around five or six years, according to Jackson, who runs the local Heritage Tower museum, one the smallest galleries in Northern Ireland.

"You have families that come and spend a year and they go because of the way of life here," he said. "Some of the police have actually referred to us as like rats living in a cage."

The area remains blighted by poverty and many houses remain derelict. Some residents say they disconnect their electricity periodically to save money.

At The Fountain's Cathedral Youth Club, Jeanette Warke has spent the last 45 years providing an education and recreational outlet to three generations of youngsters who went from dodging bullets to fighting unemployment.

Warke has seen The Fountain change over that time and now concentrates on better integrating local Catholic and Protestant children. Last year she brought them to Dublin for the centenary of the Irish uprising that led to independence from Britain and to France for a commemoration of the World War One Battle of the Somme.

"We've really opened up big avenues for these young people, Protestant and Catholic to look at their history," said Warke, who still works at the age of 73 and has been honored by Britain's Queen for her services to young people.

"You're not looking to change young people's mindsets and to take them away from their own culture, that's not what we are about. We're looking to create a better understanding and also respect for each other and that to me is very, very important."

However Jackson, Warke and other locals think it's still too soon to tear down the walls between Protestants who call their city Londonderry and Catholics who refer to it simply as Derry. There's more work to do, Warke said.

Until then, The Fountain community will remain as tight as ever.

"My mother says the only time she will leave the Fountain is in a box," said 38-year-old Daphne Atkinson, a fellow youth club worker.

"She's proud of where she's from which is a good thing so she'll not leave only when it's her time to go."

(Writing by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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