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Friday, 22 June, 2001, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Women on front line have their say

North Belfast after two nights of violence
Women living in the middle of the current tension in north Belfast have spoken to the BBC about their fears of further conflict after two nights of sectarian clashes between loyalist and nationalist communities.

While both sides agree that a resolution must be found to the violence, there are very different visions of the way toward a peaceful resolution.

Heather is a Protestant living in Ardoyne.

She said she has no difficulty in allowing Catholic children into a primary school, the passage to which has been under siege by members of her community for the past three days.


There can't be dialogue and talk because they (nationalists) always try to get their point over

Protestant resident

Loyalists said they have been attacked by gangs of men bringing children to school and nationalists say their children are being denied their education becasue of the loyalist blockades.

However, dialogue is not an option for a woman who firmly believes the blame lies with the nationalist residents in the community.

Said Heather: "I just couldn't. It is too early on. Maybe it could happen sometime, but not over the next few days," she said.

And the reason?

"There can't be dialogue and talk because they (nationalists) always try to get their point over."

Discussions were scheduled to take place on Wednesday evening when Catholics gathered in a local community centre waiting to hear from a loyalist community worker.

'Tensions too high'

"The thing is when our representatives went they didn't say to them this is what we want you to do.

"They tried to talk they said to them bring the children up but stop bringing these carloads of men in.

"Nobody is disputing the fact that there would be odd fathers coming up and down but there can't be hundreds of fathers bringing children to school which was the case with them."

Heather was born and reared in Ardoyne and she said that while the weeks leading up to the marching season have often been tainted with incidents, the current violence is the most severe by far.

"Over the years there has always been the odd bit of abuse, the odd bit of conflict usually coming up to July.

"The problem this time is there were hundreds of men screaming at us not to come back to those shops again or we would be shot.

"No, I'm not talking to no-one from down there.

"Tensions are too high and everybody is too hurt."

'It is like 1969'

Bernie is a Catholic who lives in some of the newer housing in the area.

When asked if she would talk to her Protestant neigbours to resolve the conflict, she said she would.

"Yes I would have no problem in that, to get this situation settled because we want this settled.

"We don't want this turning out like another Garvaghy Road."

Bernie's daughter has been prescribed diazapam by her doctor following the violence of the past two nights.


We don't want this this is turning out like another Garvaghy Road

Catholic resident

"The doctors had to put her on diazapam. She is in her last year at school and she is moving to Ballysillan.

"She heard last night that they were burning Ballysillan school.

"It is absolutely unbelievable, it is like a 1969/1970 situation.

"I haven't seen the likes of this in years, and what for, babies from nursery age going to school?

"Young children that we thought would never see the like of this that we seen when we were younger we don't want them seeing this.

"Our children are terrified, we've put them in the back of our houses because we don't want them seeing this.

"We are willing to talk but they will not meet and talk with us.

"It will never be resolved until they come and talk to us face to face.

"But we are living in fear as well and we need to get this sorted for the sake of the children"

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