Two pictures of Bishop Street, Autumn 2002..
The first is taken of Bishops Gate from inside the wall. Just behind the spot chosen to take the picture is the courthouse and for that reason this part of the street was slosed to traffic for a number of years. The watch tower was built as part of the defensive screen round the area and is still manned by Army personnel. The tower views not only the approaches to the Court but also the area outside the walls which has been a frequent flashpoint for trouble over the years. The second picture shows why.
The mesh screen round the exposed part of the tower at the top is to prevent attack by rockets and is a common feature of Army and Police establishments across Northern Ireland.
Just on the subject of the courthouse. The tale is often told of a case early on in the years of the troubles when street rioting was an everyday occurrence. IRA personnel routinely refused to accept the jurisdiction of what they regarded as a court imposed by the British occupying power, they would simply state they 'do not recognise this Court'. A certain well-known local solicitor was representing a youth accused of riotous behaviour when his client jumped to his feet and declared 'I do not recognise this court'. The solicitor (well known as a quick thinker) cuffed his young client, shoved him back into his seat and said to the court, 'What my client is trying to say, Your Worship, is that the courtroom has been re-decorated since his last appearance here.' As I said before, we do get a few laughs out of our troubles!
Below is the scene outside the Bishops Gate. The wall topped with wire mesh separates the loyalist 'Fountain' area of the town from the nationalist area across the road. There have been many incidences of sometimes serious violence in the area and to this day stones and ocasionally petrol bombs are thrown over the wire. Graffiti in the Fountain states 'West Bank Loyalists - still under siege'. Unfortunately and shamefully they do have a point.
The spire is that of the St Columbs Cathedral and the stone tower is, I think, all that is left of the local jail which was long since demolished.