The people of Belleek talk about trying to keep life normal in a village that rests on both sides of the border in Fermanagh and Donegal.

RTÉ News travels to Belleek a village which lies within County Fermanagh but part of it crosses the border into County Donegal. Local people are determined to maintain peace in their community despite recent violence.

The permanent British Army checkpoint just outside the village of Belleek on border between counties Fermanagh and Donegal, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. 

Every day, the Bus Éireann bus from Donegal to Dublin passes through the border town. 

For the people living in the area and those crossing the border regularly, going through these British Army checkpoints is part of daily life.

The picturesque village of Belleek is famous for its pottery and has a predominantly Catholic population of just over one thousand people. On the outskirts of the village, the network of roads criss-crosses the border. 

John McKenna is a farmer who lives in the south but also farms in the north. The bollards which have been put up through his land along the border create practical challenges for him in carrying out his daily work. He is reliant on the generosity of his neighbours north and south of the border to get work done. 

You just can't travel on both sides of the border with machinery.

In the last few months, Belleek has been the scene of sectarian violence. Two months ago, two Protestant workers were ambushed and murdered by the Provisional IRA. William Hazard and Frederick Love, both in their early sixties, the men were returning home from work in the Belleek RUC station when they were met by gunfire. 

Despite the violence, Protestant and Catholic school children who travel to school in Enniskillen together every day refuse to allow the killings to divide them. However, they are worried about the future.

People should be united and not divided because everybody gets on together and there's no fighting like up in Belfast.

I'm sure if there were a few more incidents like there was over the summer, Belleek would be divided.

It does separate both communities.

Bridie Barron and Mary Quinn agree with the sentiments of the students. Mrs Barron says

I like to be friendly with everybody, both sides of the house. There's no ill feelings in this part with anybody. They're all the same.


Local school teacher Tommie Gallagher is a member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and says that despite recent events in the community, both sides get along well together.  

There is a good deal of trust because community relations here are good and people have always got on well together. They're good neighbours, they have daily contact as members of the farming community, as business people. They don't meet on a social level except on odd occasions when they have something in common or something to celebrate. But hen they do those occasions are enjoyed by all.

Despite the efforts of the community to get along, the recent killings have brought a renewed tension to the area. It has been claimed that the IRA gang responsible for the Belleek murders have come from across the border in County Donegal. 

During the filming of this series of four special reports on life along the border, the crew came across an example of IRA intimidation in the area. In one town, a Catholic man has been told to leave by the IRA as a result of his outspoken comments against their murder campaign. 

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 4 October 1988. The reporter is Charlie Bird.