It used to be that we couldn’t sleep at night without the sound of the helicopters. And see, they would eventually stopped putting the helicopters up, we couldn’t sleep then because of the silence, because we were so used to the constant pulse of the helicopter.
Yeah women stuck together. People could have said: “Well she is down there with four wee kids and there is a pair of shoes that Shaun has grown out of it.” If they would fit or not, nothing was thrown out, it was all… it was a kind of recycling.
I think, when you look back at the war, man had to focus on the war, and they needed all the support mechanism behind them.
They always needed their wives and their partners and their mummies,but women were able to be fully combatants in the war and yet still be mothers and still be wives and daughters or whatever else they were, as well as they were doing so many roles.
Where I just think men had to have only one focus and they had to be allowed to do it like that.
"When I was 18 I went to Germany
and it was...
just the freedom of going
where you want to,
when you want to and
nobody was trying to find out
if I was a Catholic or a Protestant.
Nobody cared if I was a
Catholic or a Protestant!
Well… all my life it was my identity,
it was a big part of my life
until I went outside Northern Ireland...
nobody gives a damn!
It was an eye-opener to me, really!"
But there are many different roles, because you would have had women, who just had supportive roles, you would have had women, who were prisoners’ wives, prisoners’ daughters, you would have had women, who were combatants as well as prisoners’ wives and prisoners’ daughters. You would have had women, who may have not been active combatants but who helped the struggle by keeping weapons in their homes.
So there is a lot of roles. You need to talk about, the fact that women were able to do ALL these things.
It must be like, you know, whenever something becomes
more important than things like religion or...
you know, like music is really important to me, as I said at the start.
Whenever something is more important than where you were born
then it doesn’t matter. Like everything that we have is music
and it’s just something that we have in common
‘cause we’re both musical.
And he sings and I play and he has a band.
And, you know, like it’s all like interesting and exitin’.
And it’s just, that’s just why it’s no big deal...
"…Women are written out of history again.
The women’s part has been brought down to…
I mean, I hear them even speaking now, and it is:
“The Men, The Men in the Jails, The Men on the Ground…”
As if women have once gone again, where women always go,
to the back. I mean, it is o.k. if votes are needed to throw in a wee reminder,
remember what the women have done, your mother,
your sisters, your aunts, your cousins…
But this was never real, this was never shown to you like
‘This is your part of the struggle!’"
I do think the Troubles and the conflict masked a lot of things within communities
which never ever, should have been tolerated.
And I think it was accepted that women just keep their mouth shut.
That was the best way to survive… was just to be silent.
And get through it and live with an acceptable level of violence.
And that was the norm. Why? I am not sure.
I think conflict changes societies and changes norms.
And it is a really good thing, I think, that young women are growing up
and being told that this level of abuse,
this level of violence, this level of sexual inappropriate activity towards you
is not acceptable… and don't accept it.
"I don't think there will ever be peace,
but if there is, it will come from women.
It won’t come from men.
It will come from women standing together.
But it will take a long long time
before the women are able to stand together,
a long long time before their voices are heard."
Another big thing women in Northern Ireland are living with, is, when their man was locked up. They stood by him, they went to prison, they lived in poverty to take him parcels to the prison, [to] give him presents to make his life bearable.
The man comes out. He stands by his wife for ten years, then has [a] midlife crisis and starts to sleep around.
What’s that like for a woman who stood by her man through thick and thin?
That's an awful place to be. And a lot of women are going through that and live with that. Some people may say we have chosen to be there. So we need to just suck it up and live with it.
I would say then the same to the men. Suck it up and take responsibility. And life isn't a party!
Which is why I would think that the legacy was stronger, because if you look at the legacy of the troubles there are thousands of ex-prisoners out there and there are a lot of men ex-prisoners, suffering very, very badly from depression and post traumatic stress, but if you look at women, there is not as many women, because women they sort of see the big picture and they do so many other things, get on with life a lot quicker. When the war ended, it hurt everybody, because it didn’t end the way people wanted it to end, we don’t have United Ireland, we don’t have what we said out and what we gave up years of our life for and we lost families, we lost friends and we lost comrades. But women can manage to take the other parts of their lives that important to go on with the new generation, bringing up children, whatever it is, finding a role in society that fulfills them, that helps them to get on and that’s why I think a lot of men are finding it difficult to cope with the aftermath of war, because they didn’t have that big diversity of roles in society.
We used to laugh, cos we used to go to Scotland a lot, it was easy to pick the people from Northern Ireland, because the people from Scotland were well known to this shops and we just automatically stopped at the shop and opened our bags, even when you were just across the ladder you stopped and automatically opened your bag, even when there was nobody there, but you just…it was just normal.