December 1998


I was born in Craigavon in 1979. I have 3 brothers. My home town is about 95 miles away from Belfast. Growing up in that environment, in Ireland, isn't the same as it appears to be on television or in the newspapers, it is a lot more peaceful. There is the odd shooting or bombing but if you live in the countryside you are actually well away from the trouble. The Peace Process to me is going very slowly, but everyone has got to see that there is at least a Peace Process going on. Some want to slow it down and some want to speed it up, but as I say, everyone is glad there is something actually being done. Student days here in Durham, there is actually a lot more trouble over here than I expected. Back at home in Ireland we have very little rape attacks, muggings or stabbings. Over here in England I've heard of a lot of rape attacks and stabbings, in England they get very little media coverage. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I heard here that there were 3 people stabbed to death in Liverpool and I was talking to my parents on the telephone about it, they never heard of it on the television. Still if there's a shooting in Ireland, even if there's no one hurt or no one was injured, it's on the news across Britain. So I've been quite surprised about the amount of violence that there is in England.

When I was at school up until I was 16 years old, I grew up in a Catholic community. I lived in what was almost 100% catholic community. There were about 5 Protestant families in it. They all got on very well with everyone, there were only the odd families that were against Protestants, against Unionists. But after the age of 16 I moved house to a different village, Loughbrickland Village is 50% Protestant and 50% Catholic and the countryside around it is 70% Protestant and 30% Catholic. Because of this everyone gets on better and there is very little violence around that area because everyone knows that if they get involved in trouble, big trouble comes back to them as well. After leaving the catholic school, I went to college where it was mixed religions and lots of mixed races at it. This helped a lot with communication and helped make friends, a lot a people didn't bother about differing religions and differing beliefs and after a while, you realise everyone has actually got quite the same belief. It is just one person in every thousand who seems to spoil it for everybody.

After leaving school I studied Leisure and Tourism. Now that I've moved over to England I'm studying Leisure Management, a HND course which lasts for two years. I am studying it because with the Peace Process in Ireland, if there is peace in Ireland, there will be a lot of job opportunities in the leisure and tourism field. For example, two or three years ago when there was a cease-fire from the IRA office and from the UVF, during the summer there was a tourism boom as they called it. Tourists came from all over the world. I hope to get the qualifications I'm searching for, and then move back over to Ireland to ,hopefully, a peaceful environment.

What is special for this Christmas, I think, is the effort everyone is making towards peace from all political parties, from the British government and the Irish government, from small parties in Northern Ireland, for example from Shin Fein and the Ulster Unionists, the effort that is coming from everyone I think is giving confidence to everyone else, setting an example to everyone. Hopefully, it will make everyone make a bigger effort towards having peace at Christmas and then that way, it will be a lot more enjoyable for everyone. I was about 15 or 16 before the first cease-fire. I went to a boxing club in my village and then the boxing club was closed down and I thought what will I do next, but then with the cease-fire I was allowed to go to a close town, Newry. Because of the cease-fire, I was allowed out into town and my parents had very little to worry about because I'd be safe. The whole country is still a lot more peaceful and relaxed. Long may it last.

left arrowback button {short description of image} {short description of image}right arrow

. Material Copyright © 1997 THOMAS (Those on the Margins of a Society)
THOMAS is an integral part of Catholic Welfare Societies, Registered Charity number 503102