Northern Ireland is located on the 'island' of Ireland and is one of the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom. Despite its reputation as being violent and dangerous, the political situation is currently stable and the province is safe to visit, although this is subject to change. Northern Ireland has a vast array of attractions which are of interest to tourists, from stunning landscapes and scenery to vibrant cities and interesting remnants of the country's past.
The weather in Northern Ireland is notoriously unpredictable, and it is not uncommon to experience a full range of meteorological conditions in a single week. As with the rest of the 'island' of Ireland and Great Britain, the province is particularly susceptible to rain. Similarly to England, the weather is a common topic of conversation.
Roughly speaking, the population of Northern Ireland is largely made up of two groups. Although there had always been population movements between the west of Scotland and the north-east of Ireland, during the 16th and 17th centuries, there was an organised settlement of people from Scotland known as the Plantation of Ulster; most came to work on new plantations which had been established in the area. The indigenous Irish population was predominantly Roman Catholic (at a time when this was the only Western Christian religion), whilst many Scottish settlers from after the Reformation are predominantly Protestant.
The religious difference turned into a political split: most Protestants are unionists or (a stronger term) loyalists, supporting continued union with Great Britain, while most Catholics are nationalists or (again a stronger term) Republicans, supporting separation from Great Britain and union with Ireland. Although a certain degree of segregation existed, the situation reached boiling point in 1969 when the campaign for Civil Rights turned violent as a result of many different internal and external factors, effectively re-polarising segregation along religious lines. Previously inactive paramilitary groups became re-established in the province, which sat precariously on the brink of civil war for many years.
In 1998, after years of sporadic negotiations between the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and the paramilitary groups and local political parties, the Agreement was signed, signalling the end of violence in the province. This is often called the Belfast Agreement or the Good Friday Agreement after the place or day on which it was signed. Although there was an almost immediate drop in the level of terrorist acts and rioting, it took several years for stability to settle on the region and for agreement to be reached concerning the devolved government.
Most people visiting have heard of the varying allegiances of its people. However, to a traveller the people of Northern Ireland are friendly and warm towards visitors. You get the feeling that the people know the allegiances of each other, but to a traveller it can be hard to ascertain (at least until after the second pint of Guinness).
People can self-identify as Irish or British solely or Northern Irish. Similar divides exist in referring to place names (for example, to Republicans and many nationalists, Londonderry is Derry while, to Loyalists and many unionists it is Londonderry, which is the offical name of the city).
Cities and Towns
Northern Ireland is home to numerous cities and towns. Below is a list of nine of the most notable. Other urban areas are listed on their specific county article.
- Belfast (Béal Feirste, "the Big Smoke") - The capital and largest city of Northern Ireland. It is also the second largest city on the island of Ireland (after Dublin, the capital of the Irish Republic), and the fifteenth largest in the United Kingdom. Shattered by more than three decades of paramilitary conflict, Belfast has undergone a renaissance in recent years and is now a vibrant, buzzing city. It has been voted the fourth best city in the UK for a city break in the Guardian/Observer travel awards.
- Armagh (Ard Mhacha) - Ecclesiastical capital of Ireland; containing the headquarters of both the (Anglican) Church of Ireland, and the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland.
- Derry (Doire, "the Maiden City") - (officially known as Londonderry) The second city of Northern Ireland and fourth city of Ireland is worth a visit for its famous stone city walls (which date from the 16th century and are the only complete city walls in Ireland).
- Lisburn (Lios na gCearrbhach) - became a city as part of the Queen's Jubilee celebrations in 2002.
- Newry (Iúr Cinn Trá)- became a city as part of the Queen's Jubilee celebrations in 2002.
- Bangor (Beanchar) - A beautiful coastal resort in North Down with Ireland's largest marina and good shopping.
- Coleraine (Cúil Raithin) - Situated on the River Bann in County Derry, 5 km from the sea and with an impressive history dating back to Ireland’s earliest known settlers, Coleraine today is a major gateway to the popular Causeway Coast area. Coleraine is an excellent shopping town and also has a major performance theatre located at the University of Ulster in the town.
- Enniskillen (Inis Ceithleann) - picturesque main town of County Fermanagh, perfect for exploring the lakes around Lough Erne.
- Omagh (An Ómaigh) - The Ulster American Folk Park is located here. This is an outdoor museum which tells the story of emigration from Ulster to America in the 18th and 19th centuries.
- North Coast (Causeway Coast) - The north coast of Northern Ireland has some of the best scenery in Europe and has to be seen to be believed. This coastline is of outstanding natural beauty where breathtaking and rugged coastline merge into the romantic landscape of deep silent glens and lush forest parks. There are also spectacular waterfalls, dramatic castles and mysterious ruins. The world famous Giant's Causeway (Northern Irelands only UNESCO World Heritage site) with its array of hexagonal basalt columns and tales of ancient Irish giants, and 'Old Bushmills', the world's oldest licensed whiskey distillery, are just two attractions, which are a must for every visit to Northern Ireland. There are fantastic golf courses located at Portstewart, Castlerock and most notably at Portrush (Royal Portrush). Beautiful, unspoilt sandy beaches also extend along the coast.
- The Mourne Mountains (Na Beanna Bóirche) - The Mourne Mountains are a walker’s paradise where old mountain tracks take you past lakes, rivers, woodland and up to the many fine peaks and the famous Mourne Wall. The Mournes also offer fine rock climbing opportunities. Slieve Donnard standing at 852 m (2,796 ft) is the highest mountain in the Mournes range and also the highest mountain in Northern Ireland. It offers spectacular views from the summit towards England, and Scotland.
- Rathlin Island (Reachrainn) - Northern Ireland's only inhabited off-shore island, connected to the mainland by a regular ferry service.
Immigration and visa requirements
Northern Ireland has the same immigration and visa requirements as the rest of the UK.
- Citizens of the European Union do not require a visa, and have permanent residency and working rights in the UK.
- Citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland also have permanent residency rights, but may require a work permit in some circumstances.
- Citizens of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea and the United States do not require a visa for visits of less than 6 months.
- Most other countries will require a visa, which can be obtained from the nearest British or Irish Embassy, High Commission or Consulate.
- There is no passport control on the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Visitors must carry the document that permits them entry to the UK (passport, visa, identity card or documentation, depending on nationality).
- The UK also operates a Working Holidaymaker Scheme for citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations, and British dependent territories. This allows residency in the UK for up to 2 years, with limited working rights.
For more information of UK Immigration and visa requirements, see the UK's Home Office website .
Northern Ireland's international gateway is Belfast, which has two commercial airports. A third airport in Derry has only a few short-haul commercial flights.
George Best Belfast City Airport  (airport code BHD): just 2 miles from Belfast city center, with magnificent views of the city of Belfast or Belfast Lough offered to passengers on approach and departure. The airport principally serves routes to domestic UK and Ireland, however bmi offers interline connections to its flights and those of the Star Alliance through Heathrow. These flights are code-shared with British Airways, therefore offering interline connections to its flights and those of the One World Alliance. Airlines using the airport include:
- Aer Arann  to Cork
- Air France  to London (City)
- bmi  to London (Heathrow)
- British Northwest Airlines  to Blackpool and the Isle of Man (Ronaldsway)
- flybe  to Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Doncaster Sheffield (Robin Hood), Edinburgh, Exeter, Galway, Glasgow, Guernsey, Jersey, Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool (John Lennon), London (Gatwick), Newcastle, Paris (Charles-de-Gaulle), Southampton, Manchester, Newquay and Rennes.
- Ryanair  to Notingham (East Midlands), Glasgow (Prestwick), Liverpool (John Lennon) and London (Stansted).
The terminal is served every twenty to thirty minutes from 06.00 - 22.00 by the 600 Airport bus  (£1.30 single, £2.20 return). Depending on traffic, the journey to Belfast's Laganside and Europa Buscentres should take no more than fifteen minutes. Ask at the airport information desk for a free shuttle ride to the near-by Sydenham railway station for trains towards Bangor, Belfast and Portadown. Considering the airport's proximity to the city, taxis cost less than £10 to most parts of the city and are an economical choice for small groups.
The Airporter is an hourly shuttle from Belfast's two airports to Londonderry/Derry. The journey to Belfast City Airport takes roughly a two hours.
Belfast International Airport  (airport code BFS) (locally known as Aldergrove Airport) further away from Belfast City Airport (it is close to the town of Antrim), but offers significantly more international destinations.
- Aer Lingus  to Amsterdam, Arrecife, Barcelona, Budapest, Geneva, Faro, London-Heathrow, Malaga, Milan, Munich, Nice, Paris (Charles-de-Gaulle) and Rome (Fiumincino)
- Air Transat  to Toronto (Hamilton)
- bmibaby  to Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Nottingham (East Midlands)
- Continental Airlines  to New York (Newark)
- Easyjet  to Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin Schoenefeld, Bristol, Edinburgh, Faro, Gdansk, Geneva, Glasgow, Ibiza, Krakow, Liverpool (John Lennon), London (Gatwick), London (Luton), London (Stansted), Malaga, Newcastle, Nice, Palma-de-Mallorca, Paris (Charles-de-Gaulle), Prague, Rome (Ciampino) and Venice
- Globespan  to Orlando (Sanford) and Toronto (Hamilton)
- Jet2  to Barcelona, Blackpool, Chambery, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Leeds (Bradford), Malaga, Milan (Bergamo), Murcia, Palma-de-Mallorca, Pisa, Prague, Tenerife (South) and Toulouse
- Manx2  to the Isle of Man (Ronaldsway)
- Wizz Air  to Warsaw and Katowice
- Zoom  to Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax
The terminal is served up to thirty minutes from 05.35 - 23.20 by the 300 Airport bus  (£6 single, £9 return) to Belfast Laganside and Europa Buscentres. Depending on traffic, the journey to Belfast's Laganside and Europa Buscentres takes about forty-five minutes. Taxis should cost no more than £25-£30 to Belfast City Centre.
The Airporter is an hourly shuttle from Belfast's two airports to Londonderry/Derry. The journey to Belfast International takes ninety minutes.
- British Airways  to Dublin and Glasgow (International).
- Ryanair  to London (Stansted), Liverpool (John Lennon), Glasgow (Prestwick), Nottingham (East Midlands) and Bristol.
Despite decades of underinvestment and service cutbacks, Northern Ireland Railways (a division of Translink, Northern Ireland's public transport operator) manages to maintain a small but increasingly reliable passenger rail network around the province, with four 'domestic' lines radiating out from Belfast.
- Belfast - Bangor
- Belfast - Portadown
- Belfast - Larne
- Belfast - Coleraine - Londonderry/Derry or Portrush
Service is most frequent and reliable on the Portadown - Belfast - Bangor corridor, on which new trains offer frequent and fast suburban service. The line to Londonderry/Derry is exceptionally beautiful as it passes along the north coast after Coleraine, however travellers should note that the railway line is slower (two hours or more) than the equivalent Ulsterbus Goldline express coach (one hour and forty minutes). Contact NIR for information on tourist passes for exploring Northern Ireland by bus and train: with integrated bus and train stations in most major towns, the North is easily explored without a car.
The cross-border service to Dublin (with connections to other destinations in the Republic of Ireland) is offered by the Enterprise, a modern, comfortable and relatively fast train jointly operated by Northern Ireland Railways and Iarnród Éireann (who operate trains in the Republic of Ireland). The journey to Dublin takes around two hours, and there are eight trains a day, offering two classes of service.
Roads link Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland. However, pay particular attention to road signs when driving in border areas. In some places the border, being based on county boundaries, runs along the middle of the road while in others it's possible to cross into the South and then back into the North again within several hundred yards. Fortunately both jurisdictions drive on the left though road signs and speed limits in the Republic are now metric (kilometres) while road signs in the North are all imperial (miles).
There are currently no border checks and there is complete freedom of movement between the North and Republic without a passport.
Sailings across the Irish Sea connect Northern Ireland to Great Britain, via Larne or Belfast. All the operators listed below offer special promotions throughout the year, and some also offer through ticketing with rail and bus services at each end.
- Stena Line offer two types of service from the Port of Belfast to Stranraer in Scotland, with up to six sailings a day. The HSS Stena Voyager is a high speed catamaran (the fastest ferry from Northern Ireland to Great Britain) and the Stena Caledonia is a more traditional and slower ferry. Stena offer 'rail and sail' tickets with Scotrail train connections to destinations in Scotland from Stranraer: the railway station is directly adjacent to the ferry terminal in Stranraer.
- Stena Line also offer up to three sailings a day from Larne (accessible from Belfast by train or bus) to Fleetwood, near Liverpool.
- Norfolk Line offer daytime and nightime crossings to Birkenhead, near Liverpool. Cabins and meals are available.
Seat61.com offers informed and independent advice on how to book combined train and ferry tickets from any railway station in Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
- P&O also offers ferries into Larne. These depart from Troon and Cairnryan in Scotland.
Northern Ireland's motorway system connects Belfast to Dungannon, Ballymena and Newtownabbey. All large towns and cities are well connected by road. The speed limits are:
Motorways and Dual Carriageways - 70 miles per hour (c. 112 km/h)
Other roads (outside urban areas) - 60 miles per hour (c. 96 km/h)
Urban areas (towns and cities) - 30 miles per hour (c. 48 km/h)
There is a comparatively high incidence of road accidents in Northern Ireland, and the province employs slightly different driving laws to the rest of the UK. One notable difference is that newly qualified drivers can be identified by 'R' plates which are displayed on the car for the first twelve months after their licence is issued. These plates are mandatory. Drivers displaying these plates are limited to 45 miles per hour (c. 72 kilometres per hour) on ALL roads, including dual carriageways and motorways. As with 'L' plates in the rest of the UK, drivers displaying 'R' plates are often the target of road rage and are not awarded a great deal of patience.
Northern Ireland is not as well served by car rental companies as is the Republic. Some Irish car rental companies offer a drop off option in Belfast while others have locations in Belfast City.
- Avis Rent a Car Ltd - 69-71 Great Victoria Street
- Dan Dooley - Belfast International Airport. Offers meet and greet service at Belfast City Airport and in the Belfast Docks.
- Budget Car Rental Belfast - Have 3 locations in Belfast including the International Airport, George Best Belfast City Airport and an office on Great Victoria Street
- Europcar - 105 Great Victoria Street
- Thrifty Car Rental Northern Ireland - Drop off option at Belfast International Airport
- Northern Ireland Car Hire Northern Ireland Car Hire.
- Northern and Southern Ireland Car Hire .
By bus and train
See also Rail travel in Ireland
Translink operate the Northern Ireland public transport system.
English is spoken everywhere. There are slight variations of regional dialects. Ulster Scots and Irish are used in some small communities. Do be aware though that the Northern Irish tend to speak quite rapidly compared to most English speakers, and have a huge arsenal of local words that are frequently dropped into conversation by speakers of all ages and groups. Expect to become acquainted with words such as 'aye' (yes), 'wee' (little), 'cowp' (turn over, capsize, fall, pass out, fall asleep), 'thole' (be patient, wait, tolerate) 'wean' (literally 'wee one', meaning child), and 'crack' (spelled in Irish Gaelic as "craic", meaning a good time/fun/a laugh, with no connotations of any controlled substances whatsoever).
While conversations between local friends and acquaintances can seem brash or even rude to North Americans, it is usually all in good fun. Northern Ireland people are generally quite open, in comparison to other peoples across the rest of the British Isles. Don't be surprised if a complete stranger rushes to open a door for you, gives you a smile and a friendly "Hello", or even engages in friendly conversation. This can happen quite randomly, and anywhere - at bus stops, in shopping queues, while dining. However, it is generally wise to avoid expressing opinions on local politics. Additionally, while Northern Irish people can be quite cynical about where they are from, and are renowned for their 'black humour', this should not be taken as an invitation to join in the criticism! Silence is foreign to those from Northern Ireland, and in casual conversation you will rarely find yourselves with nothing to talk about.
Giant's Causeway- World Heritage Site and National Nature Reserve. The Giants Causeway is essentially an area of coastline and cliffs with very unusual and distinctive volcanic stone formations. The name comes from the local Legend of Finn McCool, as it was said that the rocks were once part of a bridge (or causeway) which ended in similar rocks directly across the sea, in Scotland. It is an interesting site to see but come prepared for a long and intense walk. (Best to wear waterproof clothing and strong sneakers). Giant's Causeway is split up into six sections in walking order : 1. The Camel 2. The Granny 3. The Wishing Chair 4. The Chimney Tops 5. The Giant's Boot and 6. The Organ. All six parts of Giant's Causeway are different in shape and form and truly are a sight to be seen.
Carrick-A-Rede- The name literally means the rock in the road. Carrick-A-Rede is a bridge in between two rocks that is a tourist attraction. There is a small fee to cross the bridge but the sight is amazing. After crossing the bridge, there are beautiful greens and it is a spot for great pictures. This attraction must be done during the day, it closes soon before sun-down. On a good day, the coast of Scotland is clearly visible.
Ulster American Folk Park- Northern Ireland Visitor Attraction in County Tyrone open air museum explaining story of emigration from Ulster to North America in 18th and 19th centuries. There is an Old World and New World in site. Sites include the Weaver's Cottage, A Blacksmith's forge, Crop Fields, log cabins, smoke houses, and herb gardens. Museum restaurant available, open daily for snacks and full meals.
The official currency of Northern Ireland is the pound sterling. Bank of England notes are used but the four Northern Irish banks print their own versions, which tend to be used more often (Bank of Ireland, Northern Bank, Ulster Bank, and First Trust). Northern Irish notes, while acceptable, are often refused in the rest of the UK due to lack of familiarity. For convenience they should be exchanged for specifically Bank of England notes before departure for the British mainland, and for Euros when departing to the Republic of Ireland.
Northern Ireland does a large amount of trade with the Republic of Ireland (where the Euro is used) and therefore many outlets in border areas and urban centres accept Euro.
Virtually all shops and pubs in Derry and Newry will accept Euro as payment. In addition, many major pubs and shopping outlets in Belfast city centre now accept euro. In particular, the pub company Botanic Inns Ltd and the shopping centre Castle Court can be cited as accepting payments for goods in Euro. Many phone kiosks in Northern Ireland also accept Euro, but by no means all outside Belfast itself.
A popular dish is the 'fry', called the Ulster Fry. It consists of eggs, bacon, tomatoes, sausages, potato bread and soda bread. Some versions include mushrooms or baked beans. Fry's are generally prepared as the name suggests, everything is fried in a pan. Traditionally lard was used, but recently due to health concerns, it has been replaced with oils such as canola and olive. Historically, it was popular with the working class.
Some shops sell a local delicacy called dulse. This is a certain type of seaweed, usually collected, washed and Sun-dried from the middle of Summer through to the middle of Autumn.
The cuisine in Northern Ireland is similar to that in the United Kingdom as a whole, with dishes such as Fish and Chips a staple. Local dishes such as various types of stew and potato-based foods are also very popular.
The legal drinking age in Northern Ireland is 18. People at and above the age of 16 will be served beer and wine with meals as long as there is a consenting adult present. In general, restauranteurs are generally strict about this rule, while the operators of small local pubs and bars tend to be more relaxed.
Depending on their license, most bars stop serving alcohol at either 11PM or 1AM. Some clubs serve until later, and some bars have (illegal, but widely overlooked) "lock-ins" where the doors are locked at closing time, but people can stay and drink for longer. This only takes place at the discretion of the bar owner, and such events operate on an invitation-only basis.
- Bushmills whiskey is made in the town of the same name on the north coast, and distillery tours are interesting and enjoyable. Belfast produces its own range of ales.
Despite a reputation as unsafe, Northern Ireland has one of the lowest crime rates among industrialized countries. According to statistics from the U.N. International Crime Victimization Survey (ICVS 2004), Northern Ireland has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe (lower than the United States and the rest of the United Kingdom). In fact, the results of the latest ICVS show that Japan is the only industrialized place safer than Northern Ireland. Almost all visitors experience a trouble-free stay.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland [www.psni.police.uk] (formerly the Royal Ulster Constabulary or RUC) is the police force in Northern Ireland. Unlike the Garda Síochána in the Republic, the PSNI are routinely armed. Also, it is common to see the police using heavily armoured Land Rover vehicles, which can be alarming to some visitors. There is a visible police presence in Belfast and Derry, and the police are approachable and helpful. Almost all police stations in Northern Ireland are reinforced with fencing or high, blast-proof walls. It is important to remember that there was, at one time, a necessity for this type of protection and that is merely a visible reminder of the province's past.
It is important to note that visitors are highly unlikely to be involved in any matters related to the past conflict in Northern Ireland. Since the 1998 Belfast Agreement, all of the major paramilitary groups have either declared an end to their armed campaigns, or have declared permanent ceasefires. However, there still remains a minor threat from smaller offshoot groups such as the Real IRA (RIRA) who oppose the peace process and have carried out attacks since the signing of the Agreement (such as the 1998 bombing of Omagh). According to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, there were six recorded incidents where explosives posed a threat to life in 2006/2007.
As with most places, avoid being alone at night in urban areas. In addition, avoid wearing clothes that could identify you (correctly or not) as being from one community or the other (for example Celtic or Rangers football kits). Do not express a political viewpoint (pro-Nationalist or pro-Unionist) unless you are absolutely sure you are in company that will not become hostile towards you for doing so. Even then, you should be sure that you know what you're talking about! It would even be better if you acted that either you don't know about the conflict or don't care. Avoid political gatherings where possible. Many pubs have a largely cultural and political atmosphere (such as on the Falls Road, the mostly Republican main road in West Belfast, and the Newtownards Roads in predominantly Loyalist East Belfast), but expressing an opinion among good company, especially if you share the same view, will usually not lead to any negative consequences.
Traffic through many towns and cities in Northern Ireland tends to become difficult at times for at least a few days surrounding the 12th July due to the Orange Parades and some shops may close for the day or for a few hours. The parades have been known to get a bit rowdy but have vastly improved in recent years.
If you are dialling from one telephone in Northern Ireland to another, you do not need to add any area code. If dialling from the rest of the UK use the code (028). If dialling from elsewhere you can dial a Northern Ireland number by using the UK country code 44, followed by the Northern Ireland area code 28. If dialling from the Republic of Ireland, you can use the code (048), or you can dial internationally using the UK country code.
International phone cards are widely available in large towns and cities within Northern Ireland, and phone boxes accept payment in GBP£ and Euro.
Generally speaking, people from NI are welcoming, friendly and well-humored people, however that does not mean that, on occasion, there are no taboos. It is sometimes apparent in some of the more geographically 'politicised' areas of the Northern Ireland, that an insistence on a politicised conversation, especially concerning religious affiliation, may cause offence. Further on that issue, avoid bringing up issues like the IRA, UVF, UDA, INLA etc., or political parties as it will fare similarly as the above taboo. Other than that, there are no real dangers to causing tension among the Northern Irish people. As with virtually all cultures, don't do anything you wouldn't do at home. Also, Northern Irish people have a habit of gently refusing gifts or gestures you may offer them, do not be offended, because they really mean that they like the gesture, also you are expected to do the same, so as not to appear slightly greedy, it is a confusing system but is not likely to get you in trouble.
The terms which refer to the two communities in Northern Ireland have changed. During the Troubles, the terms 'Republican' and 'Loyalist' were commonplace. These are seen as slightly 'extreme', probably due to the fact that they were terms used by the paramilitaries. It is more common to use the terms 'Nationalist' and 'Unionist' today.
The people in Northern Ireland are generally warm and open - always ready with good conversation. Of course, being such a small, isolated Province has also led to a decidedly noticeable lack in social diversity.
Gay and lesbian travellers should be aware that Northern Ireland is not the most accepting place when it comes to homosexuality. This is not necessarily due to the people being adverse to it, but rather the fact that there are virtually no examples of any Gay and Lesbian communities outside Belfast. It should be noted, however, that parts of the capital (for example the University Quarter) are perfectly safe and accepting of Gay and Lesbian people, with both of Belfast's universities incorporating active LGBT societies.
It is also worth noting that the majority of people you will encounter will be white. It isn't unusual to go a few days without encountering any multiculturalism, apart from other visitors. Racism is not generally an issue. However, due to the openness and rather frank humour in Northern Ireland, small, sarcastic comments may be made about the issue, in jest, if a local encounters someone outside of his or her own nationality. It is best not to react to this, as it is most likely just a joke, and should be treated as such.
However, there have been issues of more severe racism in parts of the province in recent years. Belfast is the most ethnically diverse area, but even so the city is over 99% white. Typically, incidents of overt or violent racism have been confined to South Belfast, which has a higher mix of non-white ethnicities due to its location near Queen's University. The local rumour is that a recent speight of violence directed at people with a Chinese or South-East Asian appearance was the result of a Chinese Restaurant's refusal to pay protection money to the UDA (Ulster Defence Association) paramilitary group. Whether this is true or not, the fact is that non-white travellers should exercise a greater degree of caution in certain parts of Belfast. Visitors should remember that there are places to avoid in all cities and as Belfast is smaller than most, those areas may come to view more than in others.
This page was last edited at 09:08, on 13 March 2009 by James Brown. Based on work by Ian Sergeant, Jani Patokallio, shawn and Peter Fitzgerald, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.