The second 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:
“I’m just devastated for my child, I’m upset about my house and my street and the damage to the area and all the work we’ve been doing, but mostly I think about my daughter. For years I kept her away from all this, she’s so innocent, she never knew anything about the two communities or the differences, I don’t want to have to explain about the troubles to her. She should be asking about when we’re next going to the caravan or what’s for breakfast in the morning, not about the flag or are they going to riot again tonight. I lived away from here and bought a house in the last few years here thinking it was all behind us, to be honest it’s also caused problems in my relationship because me and my partner don’t agree about staying out of it and keeping away. He wants to go out and defend and protect our community and I won’t let him.
I’m just so angry and sad about all this, and all the work we’ve been doing in this community. I have to say I did have a wee cry to myself in the house the other night, with all the lights out and the curtains shut so that no-one knows we are there, but then I get annoyed with myself for letting it get to me.
We’ve worked so hard over the years and have been doing so much good work and now our women’s group can’t meet – it’s just too scary. We’ve been working for this building (Skainos) to be a shared space and now these riots are just making a mess in their own community.
Lots of the rioters come from outside the area, they are not necessarily residents. I’m worried about my car insurance and my house insurance going up. It’s so scary. It’s all right for the politicans to take it slowly and not do anything – they’re well protected. I feel terrible but every night I am saying a prayer and pleading for the trouble not to be in my street, which sounds awful because then it might be in someone else’s.
I wouldn’t mind going to one big peaceful rally about protesting the flag, you know to show your support for the community, for my friends and my family. But I can’t stand this, I put the fire extinguisher and the hose out ready in the kitchen last night in case anything happens, I just get so upset.
If this trouble goes on and on I would be heartbroken – I just want it to stop…”