The Protestant population of West Belfast lives in the area abutting the Falls to the north, between the Shankill Road and the Crumlin Road. As with the Falls, there’s little here of special interest, apart from an array of Loyalist murals (some even including web addresses). Along the Crumlin Road, in particular, are a number of evocative sites symbolizing the worst years of the Troubles. From the Westway you’ll pass between the courthouse and the notorious Crumlin Road Gaol, the two connected by an underground tunnel; former inmates include Éamon de Valera, Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley and it closed in 1996. The gaol is currently being refurbished with a view to reopening in 2011 with visitors’ tours and occasional cultural events planned. Despite many other obvious signs of redevelopment and renovation – the most apparent being the recently constructed leisure centre – the area is in decline, its population shrinking in inverse proportion to the Catholic population on the other side of the Peace Line.
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