Today’s post holds one of two stories collected that try and capture the views and experiences of women, mothers, community workers and residents of the Lower Newtownards Road/Castlereagh Street area – their views differ with each other and from my own. These are the woman’s words and story:
“Our whole area has been put on hold, things have been cancelled, the kids have to be picked up early from everything. My eldest daughter is whining in the house about not being able to go out and see her friends – so I took her out and showed her all the police in their riot gear standing at the top of our street – and she was terrified.
I can’t stop thinking about our women’s group that has members from the Lower Newtownards Road and the Short Strand, they’re our friends who we’ve known for years and done loads of good work together. To be honest I am also dreading seeing them, it will be awkward and there will be tensions, given everything that has gone on, I am not looking forward to it at all.
Over the last few weeks I’ve not been to any of the protests or the riots, but since Christmas I’ve been to three or four because the trouble has got bad and I wanted to see with my own eyes. I feel I can be there, and I should be there to stand with my community and my identity, especially now. I’ve been down to see ‘our ones’ a few times and most of the protests are peaceful, most of the protestors are female, you never see that portrayed in the news – it feels like the media is one sided. The trouble starts when the men step in to protect the women and children.
I was walking back from the city centre on Saturday and we got attacked – I was walking with an elderly woman and she couldn’t run when things started getting thrown at us. People were waiting and prepared to throw things at us, nobody communicated to us that the Queen’s bridge would be shut, if we had known that was going to happen we wouldn’t have went and nor would most of those women and children.
It feels like the politicians are doing nothing, they are never on the streets talking to real people, there’s only one politician who has been down at all the protests, stays until the end and always is there is anyone gets hurt. The police are there, but they’re using really bad language towards us, I don’t feel like they’re protecting us at all I saw two women get beaten after stepping in to protect a young boy.
I don’t feel that this can be fixed – if this goes on and on, until the flag goes back up – I’d say I’d get fed up with it – but then if you put yourselves in the shoes of the people that have gone to all the protests for six weeks would you give up now? After going through all that for all those weeks? How could you?”
I will post a second story later on this evening – my intention here is to try and capture experiences and views from the community, particularly a female perspective that isn’t often reflected in the media or ‘peace talks’.