Newbridge teacher tells of Libya ordeal

A teacher from Newbridge who returned from Libya last Thursday has described her ordeal which saw her spend three days in the airport before she caught a flight with the British Foreign Office.

A teacher from Newbridge who returned from Libya last Thursday has described her ordeal which saw her spend three days in the airport before she caught a flight with the British Foreign Office.

Claire Walsh, from Allenview Heights, had been working in an Irish school over in the capital Tripoli since last September. However last week Claire and her boyfriend Adam Brain from Scotland, found themselves in the middle of violent unrest as protests by the Libyan opposition to oust the nation’s long-time leader, Moammar Gadhafi got out of control.

“I was working in a high school called the International School of Marytars,” she explained. “The life style is very different for women especially as they cannot drink alcohol but it was very enjoyable over there until last week. When we were there it looked like the people were happy with their lot. Everything was pro Col Gadhafi - they are all brain washed. Gadhafi is blatantly corrupt and he has all the power.

“You would see people carrying around bags of money otherwise Gadhafi gets a share if it is declared,” she said.

Then there was the uprising in Tunisia and Egypt which sparked protests on the streets and violent civil unrest took hold.

“It all started with a protest,” she recalled. “We lived in the city centre and the protests started about four miles away. We didn’t expect it to get so bad. Then on Saturday and Sunday night last we heard fire bombs and gun fire and I realised it was time to go. I went to my boyfriend’s house, who was living just outside the city and who comes from Scotland. We tried to get out three times on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Finally we got a flight at 8:30am on Thursday morning last with the British Foreign Office because of my boyfriend, Adam. I wasn’t scared as I knew I was going to get out but some of the scenes at the airport - you felt so sorry for the people, mainly Egyptians, who had no money and who you knew were never going to get out. Gadhafi is mad at the Egyptians and he is blaming them for the uprising - they are all trying to get out before they are gunned down. I don’t know if I will go back - maybe when he is over-thrown but for the moment I will be looking for a job here. We had to leave lots of clothes, make-up and books behind as we had to go so quickly. But all these things can be replaced. It’s the kids that I was teaching since September that I will miss the most,” Ms Walsh said.