People will buy and sell anything in tourist towns, from shark's tooth necklaces to back scratchers to "Bikini Patrol" T-shirts. But in the Northern Ireland city of Belfast, some entrepreneurs are taking the tourist trade to a new low.
According to a BBC report, Belfast bus operator Translink has been running a "Troubles Tour" that carts around wide-eyed vacationers to see sites related to the 30 years of violence between the Catholic minority and the Protestant majority. And now a tattoo parlor called Ink Castle has put up a window display of T-shirts bearing images of gun-toting terrorists with provocative captions like, "If you can't beat 'em, shoot 'em," "By any means necessary" and "A method of resisting government by deliberate acts of violence."
Jim Rodgers, Ulster Unionist member and Belfast city councilman, has spoken out against the terrorism peddlers. He told the BBC that the T-shirts are offensive to people who have been affected by the so-called troubles. He added, "We are trying to bring people to this city and attract investment, and I think if people are wearing T-shirts with sectarian slogans, it gives the wrong image of our beautiful city."
Ink Castle's owner, referred to as "Big Al," disagrees. He told the news service his T-shirts merely poke fun at terrorism. "They do not support either loyalist or republican paramilitaries," he said. "Some of the terrorists on the T-shirts are Islamic, not even from here. If you can't laugh at them, what kind of sense of humor have you got?"