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16 October 2014
BBC NI - Eyewitness

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Community Voices - Anne Bill is a Protestant community worker who lives in the Glenbryn estate Anne Bill

Protestants on the Upper Ardoyne feel as though their message never got out. They would blame the media on highlighting them as bigots, and highlighting them as child abusers and they feel that that was definitely not them that went out to protest.

What was the nature of their protest? Why did they feel the need to protest?

They felt the need to protest because they were totally frustrated with the whole system. They had tried to engage with the Northern Ireland office. They had tried to go through the government and the different channels that was open to them, and still they were ignored. So they felt that they were always undergoing intimidation and they just got so frustrated that the bubble burst and they needed to do something else. And it was spontaneous - there was a protest because of the ongoing attack.

Did they try to avoid conflict in any way? For example, did they try to negotiate or dialogue with the Catholic community?

Yes. They initiated cross-community talks immediately on the nineteenth of June and again on the twentieth of June. They broke down and they again initiated the mediation network because they had no skills to deal with things on their own. Again, this was left until the eighth of August by the Catholic community who didn't want to engage because of Drumcree or whatever, and decided to…the Protestants decided to pull out, because again, they felt frustrated. They felt they didn't have the skills to do this and they needed help to move on. And again, they weren't getting that, because they were being rushed.

Now when the protest did occur, there was a lot of angry words spoken at the children. The children were crying, they were clearly traumatised, and then a pipe bomb was thrown. Who threw the pipe bomb? I mean, was that done with the support of the Protestant community?

No, I don't think anybody who went to protest that day even knew anything about…a pipe bomb, or wouldn't have known anything about any violent means of doing anything. I mean, they went out to stand at their corner to highlight the facts that they were under intimidation.

So, were they manipulated by hard-line loyalists in that area?

I don't know that they were manipulated, but they were, there were certainly other elements there in both communities who influenced what happened on those days of the protest, and it wasn't the people who protested.

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