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16 October 2014
BBC NI - Eyewitness

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Community Voices - Elaine Burns is a Catholic community worker who lives in Ardoyne Elaine Burns

There were strenuous efforts made over the summer to try and get this issue resolved, and to try and get the children safely back to school, and all efforts failed. So we knew that there was going to be a blockade when we returned to school in September. The thing was we just didn't know how vicious and ferocious it was going to be.

They would say that they were simply protesting against the Catholic community in the Ardoyne, who they blame for attacking them and forcing them out of their homes.

That has to be utter rubbish. My four-year-old daughter didn't intimidate or attack anybody in the Protestant community, I have never attacked anybody in the Protestant community, and for people in Glenbryn to say, you know, that this wasn't against the children, then why did they choose to be so abusive and such venomous hatred when the children were going to school and home from school.

Approximately one hour in the day - that was all vented at children and their parents. If they had wanted to protest and show their anger, there's 23 other hours in a day where Catholic schoolchildren were not going to school. They could have done something else.

Throughout the history of the conflict, there has been 99 people in my community murdered; there has been blast bomb attacks, petrol bomb attacks; but that doesn't give anyone in my community the right to abuse young children, Protestant children, going to their school.

Can you step into the shoes of a Protestant mother in Glenbryn and sense the fear that she has in relation to your community? Your community is big, it's confident, it's growing and their community seems to be diminishing, and there's a large percentage of pensioners there now.

Glenbryn was always an elderly declining population and it was a very quiet area, and up until two years ago, both communities co-existed very well, shopping together, the same GPs, passing each other going to and from school with their children, the baby clinic. So the two communities did co-exist very well up until two years ago. I can't honestly put myself into a Protestant mother's shoes in Glenbryn because I have been hurt, my children are victims of horrific abuse, and I can't put myself in the mindset of a person who stood and carried out that abuse. So for that reason, I can't understand why they done that. I do understand that there are other issues like housing, unemployment - but those issues affect my community as well, and my family.

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