Turn on the breakfast radio news each morning and you’ll still sometimes hear the results of the continuing low level of beatings and intimidation. Our violent past hasn’t gone away. But I seem to have got used to that. But individual misery and abuse seems to wash over me.
A different thing to realise the same violence - maybe some of the same people - had turned on an entire community, twenty families singled out for sustained abuse?
It was awful to see pictures during the week of families scared to stay overnight in their homes. Terrorised. A week old baby unable to go home from hospital to a warm secure home, but spending a night in a church hall and then temporary accommodation.
I wouldn’t want that for my family. And not for theirs. So it felt important to attend today’s rally, and important to go as a family.
I don’t want my four year old daughter to grow up in a society that is intolerant and racist. And I don’t want her to end up intolerant or racist herself. She wanted to go to the swimming pool this afternoon. But when she asks why we went to Belfast first, to stand with all those people with banners and flags, we can tell her that it was to support Romanian families who we let down last week.
To say sorry and stand up to the handful of people who singled them out. And to support the Irish travelling community who we continue to let down. And the Chinese families who speak with Belfast accents but were told a year or two ago where they couldn’t build a community centre unless they wanted it burnt down.
Northern Ireland’s spent too long labelling people as different and then telling them to go away. That’s got to stop.