WEE MUCKERS – Youth of Belfast

Toby Binder

2007 - Ongoing

Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

»If I had been born at the top of my street, behind the corrugated-iron border, I would have been British. Incredible to think. My whole idea of myself, the attachments made to a culture, religion, nationalism and politics are all an accident of birth. I was one street away from being born my enemy« All quotes by Paul McVeigh, Belfast-born novelist

Photographer Toby Binder has been documenting the daily life of teenagers in British working-class communities for more than a decade. After the Brexit referendum he focussed his work on Belfast in Northern Ireland. There is a serious concern that Brexit will threaten the Peace Agreement of 1998 that ended the armed conflict between Protestant Unionists and Catholic Nationalists who live in homogeneous neighborhoods that are divided by walls till today. Old conflicts may recur, compromising the youth’s future prospects. Nevertheless, being underage, most teenagers were not allowed to vote in the referendum. Problems they struggle with are similar - no matter which side they live on. And whatever the effects of Brexit will be, it‘s very likely that they will strike especially young people from both communities.

»Are you born or do you become your nationality? Is it something from which you can’t escape and, if so, is nationality a kind of prison?«

The images of the project “Youth of Belfast" were photographed in six different neighborhoods of Belfast. Binder’s photo essay depicts the ubiquity of unemployment, drug crime, and violence afflicting Belfast’s youth, whether they live on one side of the “Peace Wall” or the other. Whatever comes of Brexit, the ramifications will be  felt by communities on both sides. The project accompanies teenagers in six different Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods, providing an intimate and immediate insight into the daily lives of a whole generation.

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  • Shankill. Boy playing football in front of a Union Jack painted on the wall.

  • Shankill. Group of boys at a wasteland on Lanark Way.

  • Shankill. Girls siting on the sidewalk of Tennent Street.

  • Clonard. Tiernan.

  • Sandy Row. Church on McAdam Park.

  • Shankill. Bonfire preparations on Conway Street.

  • Highfield. The girl with the flower dress.

  • Clonard. Group of teenagers at the local water reservoir.

  • Shankill. Emily.

  • Carrick Hill. Scooter on a barbed wire.

  • Carrick Hill. Brendan behin a police line.

  • Highfield. "Strength, Respect, Loyalty".

  • Carrick Hill. Rachel running past police vehicles on Stanhope Street.

  • Clonard. Liam.

  • Clonard. View from Clonard Monastry towards the "Peace Wall" and Shankill neighbourhood.

  • Shankill. Young boy and old men at a Protestant parade on Crumlin Road.

  • Shnakill. Boy turning away from garbage set on fire at a wasteland on Caledon Street.

  • Sandy Row. Boys drinking and arguing.

  • Shankill. Megan and Joshua.

  • Sandy Row. Cole.