'The nightmare is starting again'

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The Independent Online
A lone bell rang out for Mass at the Holy Church of the Cross in Ardoyne, Belfast, yesterday morning, and the congregation knelt for prayer in heavy silence.

The high wire fences surrounding the imposing church, at a crossroads between loyalist and nationalist Belfast, were a legacy to the past thought buried before the weekend.

Fr Kenneth Brady described the mood of the people as "desperate". "There is only one thing in people's minds and in their hearts, the ceasefire and the need to re-establish peace," he said. "We had hoped we would never see this again."

It was here that Thomas Begley, 21, was given a funeral. He was killed during an attack on Frizzell's fish shop in loyalist Belfast three years ago and yesterday the fear among worshippers was that violence would erupt again.

Vince Morgan, 35, only returned to Ulster after the ceasefire was announced, and his two young children, two and six months, are part of the first generation born in peace.

He said: "People are thinking about who's going to be the first person to be killed here. We don't want our kids going through the same cycle of prejudice we grew up with. People are very sad and angry enough wasn't done by the politicians. On both sides. They should have bulldozed peace through, not pussyfooted around."

Many said it was the ordinary people who were being forced to pay the price for the lapse in the ceasefire. One Catholic taxi driver, who would not be named, fears he has already lost his Protestant girlfriend.

The man, aged 27, met her after it was safe for taxis to drive for the first time into the fiercely loyalist Shankill area. But she failed to turn up for their meeting at a shopping centre this weekend to discuss their future after the London bombing.

"She's terrified, I know she is," the driver said. "Her family hated the idea of her seeing a Catholic anyway. This has reawakened all the fear and uncertainty. It's like the nightmare is about to start all over again."