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Artist hopes to boost peace by towing iceberg to Titanic birthplace

Reuters | Press Association
Wednesday February 23, 07:40 PM

BELFAST (AFP) - An artist said she hoped to jolt Northern Ireland into resurrecting its peace process and self-confidence by towing an iceberg to Belfast, the birthplace of the iceberg-doomed Titanic ocean liner.
Artist Rita Duffy said the iceberg would be a symbol of regeneration for Belfast, cooling the simmering anger among Protestants and Catholics who are trying to put 30 years of sectarian violence behind them.

"Technically, it is feasible," Duffy told AFP. "The plan is to take an iceberg from off the coast of Norway and bring it along the western isles along the old Viking journey towards Belfast," said the painter, who is known for her caustic humor.

She said a company called Thaw has been set up to raise money for the project, which will take several years to carry out.

However, Belfast Lough, the natural port in Belfast where the Titanic was built, is not deep enough, and the iceberg will have to be towed to the coast of Down, on the southeastern side of the city.

"It's about regeneration, about pushing the city forward and also to alter the psyche of Belfast," Duffy said. "If you think of the last 30 years of pain and suffering through burning fire, to me the iceberg is the total opposite of burning fire," she said, adding that the event would help people confront their fears and soothe wounds.

"Dante referred to a descent into Hell," she said. "It's like the situation in Belfast. We are still alive, but prevented from moving in any direction. There is a total lack of political advancement. Perhaps art is just able to do something different."

Duffy and her supporters do not want to dwell on Titanic's fate so much as recall the technological edge it had at the time while not forgetting the discrimination suffered by the minority Catholics in the shipyard that built it.

They said it was all about restoring confidence in Belfast.

The Titanic left Belfast Lough on its maiden voyage before hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic and sinking on April 15, 1912, claiming 1,503 lives.

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