The recent strike by BBC journalists over the ‘REAL LIVES’ programme and the dispute at RTE over the interview with NORAID representative MARTIN GALVIN have focused world attention on Sinn Fein once again .MICHAEL KELLY spoke to Sinn Fein president GERRY ADAMS at interviews in Dublin and Belfast , conducted over the course of the past month .
From ‘IN DUBLIN’ magazine, August 1985 .

The centre of Belfast , with its shopping precincts , resembles Dublin . The iron gates to the shopping areas are unmanned now and most shops have dispensed with searching their customers . The affluent and the trendy shop freely and the atmosphere seems no different to that of the city two hours’ train journey away to the South .

This article is an examination of the phenomenon of Sinn Fein north and south of the border and was researched by talking to the party’s workers both in Belfast and in Dublin’s suburbs . However its major concern is an interview with Mr. Gerry Adams MP , given before the present furore about the BBC’s Martin McGuinness (pictured here, with other Westminster employees) interview . A Sinn Fein spokesman last week said it is an ‘insult to people’s intelligence ‘ not to screen interviews with Sinn Fein and that people should be let make up their own minds . The interview with Gerry Adams , which we will shortly get to , is published verbatim .

Looking at Gerry Adams MP , you find it hard to visualise him as the political end of the ‘Armalites and ballot-box’ strategy of the Provisional IRA . Sitting in front of you in short sleeves , steel-rimmed glasses topping a ready grin , he doesn’t resemble Michael Noonan’s nightmares of Ian Paisley’s ‘Anti-Christ’ . The credibility of ‘The Sunday Times’s’ assertion that he is commander-in-chief of the IRA is also stretched . (‘1169…’ Comment – ….we now know that Mr Adams was never even in the PIRA, never mind being a leading figure in said organisation . Why the very idea……)

From ‘MAGILL’ magazine, August 1983 .

If you came from Derry , as all the defendants and their relatives did , and all the defence solicitors did , and two of the journalists did , and Raymond Gilmour did , his halting evidence was like a slow and gentle journey round the town .

First he went to Hugh Duffy’s house in Lislane Drive – of course you mentally nod , there’s Hugh sitting over there , know that street well , know his mother too – a widow woman , worked as a cleaner for a while in the schools , what’s she doing now , you wonder – and then Raymond Gilmour says Hugh sent him over to Ducksie Doherty’s house ….. hello Ducksie , instinctively your head nods in greeting to him : grand nick-name that , terrific smile Ducksie , he’s all teeth . And then Gilmour ended up in McCann’s fish and chip shop down in the Brandywell. McCann’s , a location to conjure with , the place where you go after bingo or a dance in the Lourdes Community Hall, a terrific place to hang around on a mild late summer’s night , its glass windows comfortingly lit up during the winter .

Then Raymond mentions a street in the Brandywell , not all that familiar really – the area is being reconstructed by the day , with new housing everywhere – and , as you puzzle this one you are jerked back into the courtroom : the rifle was hidden under a concrete block , “…there was a green tile over the block , lino over the tile , and the cooker was on top of that..” . Raymond says he was taken into the bathroom and shown how to use the rifle : ” There was frosted glass in the bathroom window so no one could see through it …” He named the men and women in that house , in that kitchen , on that day . It could be true , it might not be true . ” Sorry , your honour , ” Raymond Gilmour says , conversationally , ” ….I forgot to mention Cathy Miller and Betty McSheffrey . They had been there , too ……. ”

Sinn Fein’s recent election success in the North of Ireland have focussed attention on the Provisionals’ new turn to political activity at local level . There have been parallel developments in the organisation in the 26 counties .
‘GRALTON’ magazine spoke to Paddy Bolger , Ard Comhairle member and National Organiser for Sinn Fein ,with special responsibility for Dublin , about the changed perspective .
From ‘GRALTON’ magazine , August/September 1983 .

‘GRALTON’ magazine : ” Let’s take Rank’s as an example . You are heavily involved there . How did that arise and what’s Sinn Fein hoping to achieve through its involvement ? ”

PADDY BOLGER : ” The situation there is that the workers had a high level of consciousness about the state of the industry . They were politically fairly advanced already , and were isolated at the start of the dispute and some of them turned to us . We did not get involved politically . We didn’t want to get them a ‘bad name’ , as you might say . But we did provide the service of a phone , stationery and contacts with journalists and trade unionists who might assist . Our attitude is that we did not intervene , that the workers asked us to become involved . We didn’t inititate any policy decisions which the workers took . We’re very pleased from our own political position to see how they have responded , especially in their manifesto which is one of the best pieces of trade union commentary which we have seen for years . We didn’t believe that a party can intervene in a strike if the workers themselves haven’t decided on a line of action .

We are the only grouping on the Left which has a substantial base which gave Ranks’ workers any help . We would have preferred if the trade union movement had given them more active support . ”

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
This entry was posted in History/Politics.. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.