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Voices of Conflict: Northern Ireland


In Northern Ireland, many people are having flashbacks. They see what's going on in Iraq and it reminds them of what they went through. Producer Charles Lane begins with the Irish hunger strike. Ten people starved themselves to death while in jail. The first voice you'll hear is that of the brother of one of them.

(Soundbite of music)


Mr. MICKEY HUGHES(ph): My name is Mickey Hughes and my brother was Francis Hughes, who died in a hunger strike in 1981.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. HUGHES: I was the last person to speak to him alive. And I was talking with him all night long. He's getting a little bit down, all right. But I knew it was all over. You could see it in his face. The cheeks (unintelligible) and very, very pale in color, and I knew it was too late to save him.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. PATRICIA CAMPBELL(ph): I have lots of memories of the deaths of all hunger strikers. I remember the coffin being carried in front of me. The British, they sort of came out of nowhere and just attacked. They started to fire into the crowd.


Mr. SAM MALCOMSON: The IRA didn't have a master propaganda machine.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. MALCOMSON: We (unintelligible) and the young soldier was blown out of the vehicle and he was still alive, and yet he was burning to death. You see it every day at the moment in Iraq. I can remember (unintelligible) the young lads from (unintelligible) had gathered and they were cheering, catcalling and mocking the army (unintelligible) they got one of their men, and this lad was burning to death.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. MOLLY CARSON(ph) (Resident, Ireland): You have a daily routine and everywhere you go, you check your car. If you're taking children in the car, you can imagine your thoughts, your fears.

Ms. JEAN LEMON(ph): Just that total terror. I don't even know how to - you're afraid if you swallow, you're going to be sick. You know, people kept coming out of their houses and (unintelligible) I thank God it wasn't. You know, and then you feel guilty about that too, you know, because (unintelligible) and then it's somebody else that you probably knew and loved. You know?

(Soundbite of choir)

Mr. MALCOMSON: I heard a thud and everybody who had been in the building was dead. Police officers from all walks of life (unintelligible) both Protestant and Roman Catholic were in that canteen and they all were killed.

Ms. DIERDRE MONTGOMERY(ph): I heard it on the television. That was the first news I got of my husband's death. And I have two grown daughters and they were (unintelligible) new dresses for a wedding. My daughter was to be married in February. They were (unintelligible)

Ms. LEMON: When that happened, survival is more important than anything else and you crawl into a little ball and you try to survive what's happening.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. CARSON: You stop being a child. You lose every part of your childhood.

Ms. LEMON: When I look at (unintelligible) the TV and I see them in Iraq, I just want to take them all and just - I just, you just thank my God. I hope. Take a look at my kids here and they're growing up. Everyday, six day a week, we go to the ballpark, football, baseball. Let's go swimming, Mom. Let's do this, mom, let's - (unintelligible) my glory. You know, they were able to have that as a childhood. In conflict you don't have that because you're born and then you fight. And that's it.


Here's who we heard speaking: Mickey Hughes, Patricia Campbell, Sam Malcolmson, Molly Carson, Jean Lemon and Dierdre Montgomery. They were interviewed by interviewed by independent producer Charles Lane.

BRAND: DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News with contributions from I'm Madeleine Brand.

BURBANK: And I'm Luke Burbank. Adios. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.