LESS than two weeks on from the New Zealand terrorist attacks, in which 50 people were killed and 50 others were injured, life in the once ‘safe haven’ is yet to get back to normal for Christchurch’s close-knit Irish community.
Speaking to The Clare People, Connolly native and Christchurch Irish Society member, Claire Moloney, said that the Irish stand in solidarity with the Muslim community, but those in the “peaceful” city remain “on edge”.
“It’s quite shocking because I lived in Australia for six years and I moved here, so I’m only here a few months,” she explained.
“I just find the people here so friendly, so welcoming and it is quite multicultural.
“A lot of New Zealand’s income is based on tourism so they are very welcoming people and they put their hands out to everyone.
“So, for something like this to happen to a minority group has really shaken the New Zealand people because it is so peaceful here,” added Ms Moloney
New Zealand is widely considered a safe country, with a relatively low level of homicide, a fact that Claire says further increases the shock factor in the aftermath of the recent attacks.
“Being so far away from home and something like this happening were a minority foreign group are targeted, is quite frightening,” she said.
“A friend of mine is a health worker and some of the families that they work for have been affected by it – they have lost a lot of friends.”
During the attacks, Claire Moloney was working in Christchurch going about her everyday business before learning of the horror that had unfolded metres away from her regular route home.
“I left work and drove home the way I always drive home and I was met with police and road closures and at that time I didn’t know what was after happening,” she explained.
“I had just assumed it was a car crash so I took a detour and I went into the shopping centre.
“I was told there was a massive excavation happening – there
“It [the attacks] was on the route I normally take home every evening and, being so close to actually being in middle and seeing it, that was quite scary,” added the Connolly woman.
A normally vibrant yet easy going and safe city, Christchurch hasn’t been the same
“The first few days after it happened, there was nobody really walking the streets or there was nobody out and about doing anything,” Claire added.
“We all went into lockdown on that Friday – a lot of the Irish community had been lockdown in work and weren’t allowed leave until they said it was okay.
“Everyone is upset and the morale is quite down but on the other side of the spectrum, the people are pulling together amazingly.
“Everyone is still on edge but we have a really nice little Irish community here.
“But, there is definitely still