THE CATHOLIC HIERARCHY – PROPPING-UP THE ORANGE STATE……..
At a press briefing on May 3rd, 1983, Bishop Cathal Daly declared that a vote for Sinn Fein was ‘a wasted vote’ , and that people should think seriously before risking being seen as ‘supporting violence’ . As polling day approached , the rising crescendo of calls from Bishop Daly and other members of the Catholic hierarchy became increasingly explicit in their support for the SDLP. Against the background of this intervention into the arena of nationalist party politics , Patricia Collins sketches the role played by the leadership of the Catholic Church over the past fourteen years against nationalist resistance .
From ‘IRIS’ magazine , July 1983.
Against the political upheavals of the late 1960’s and 1970’s , the Catholic hierarchy was often left confused : some priests who spoke out against internment in 1971 were swiftly moved to remote country parishes , yet in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday dozens of clergymen flocked to Derry to be among the mourning crowds .
Bishop William Philbin rarely made any statements on the political crisis , despite the trauma of events for nationalists , except to unilaterally condemn IRA actions . In September 1969 he had asked Belfast nationalists to pull down the barricades and they followed him , but after 1969 he repeatedly urged his flock to ‘stop supporting violence’ , but this time with little success . However , while Bishop Philbin was consistent in his unashamedly pro-British stance , other clergymen tried the subtle approach : in 1976 , a team from the Irish Council Of Churches, chaired by Dr Cahal Daly (then Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise) , published a report entitled ‘Violence In Ireland’ in which that word is defined thus – ” It is essential to distinguish between the lawful use of force and the unlawful use of force , which is violence.”
The State , argued Daly’s report , “…has the right to use such force as is necessary to restrain wrong-doers , for anyone else to use force is unlawful and therefore constitutes ‘violence’ . There is no justification in the present situation in Ireland * for the existence of any paramilitary organisations . The Churches jointly remind their members that they have a prima facie moral obligation to support the currently-constituted authorities in Ireland against all paramilitary powers . ” (‘1169…’ Comment : *throughout our on-going centuries-long struggle for full independence , the ‘establishment’ [whether represented by collar , suit or uniform] has never failed to fall back on the imperialist mantra that ‘there is no justification for using violence against the State…’ : as similarly-oppressed people the world over will confirm , the mere presence of an agressive , corrupt imperial power is justification enough.)
THE POLITICS OF REPRESSION …….
Repression is not just bullets and the kick on the door at dawn. Repression is an integrated imperialist policy to deal with a risen people which encompasses all facets of social and political life.
From ‘IRIS’ magazine , July/August 1982.
Every border crossing to the 26 counties is controlled by a fortress-like checkpoint ; the inshore coastal zones and Lough Neagh are patrolled by minesweepers and fast patrol boats , and dozens of helicopters equipped with sophisticated surveillance equipment are constantly in the air over nationalist areas , day and night . ‘Phantom’ jets regularly fly over the whole North-East , taking high-altitude photographs which can show up arms dumps etc .
Every nationalist townland , village or housing estate has a permanent British garrison protected by massive fences and anti-rocket meshes . Armoured jeeps and heavily armoured personnel carriers cruise through the little streets of Belfast , Derry and other nationalist areas . On the border , Saracen armoured cars, which are more resistant to landmines , are used . This vast panoply of armed repression is matched by a series of control measures directed at the nationalist population as a whole . Most adults in the nationalist community have been held for some time by the British forces – thousands of young men and women have passed through prison since 1969 and for those outside there is a daily round of harassment and intimidation by the forces of the State .
Tens of thousands have had their homes raided or destroyed . Most of those arrested have been psychologically abused , brutally assaulted or tortured in the notorious ‘interrogation centres’ . The intelligence agencies are highly active and the amount of information collected on nationalist areas is quite staggering in its sheer volume and detail . In this area the new technology of political control is vitally important because it allows the British Army to wage a counter-insurgency war within the tighter constraints of a mainly urban European situation quite different from its previous colonial campaigns . A computerised intelligence system is less visible but even more effective than the purely brutal methods employed by the British in their long history of colonial wars * . (‘1169…’ Comment * : that ‘long history’ encompasses a bloody trail left behind by the British in more than 56 countries and includes the approximate six million native people murdered by the British for resisting . And that ‘long history’ is not over yet…) In fact the whole fabric of social life in the occupied area of Ireland has been torn apart . The nationalist people live under a permanent state of siege…….
REPUBLICAN MOURNERS DEFEAT RUC…….
Between December 1983 and May 1987 , over 25 republican or nationalist funerals were systematically attacked by the RUC as a matter of deliberate British policy . The objective was to drive mourners off the streets so that later Britain could claim dwindling support for republicanism as ‘evidenced’ by the small numbers attending IRA funerals . As Jane Plunkett reports , the opposite happened . More and more people came out to defend the remains of republican dead , the RUC were exposed as being as brutal and sectarian as ever , and these two factors , combined with damaging international news coverage , eventually forced the British government to reverse its policy of attacking republican funerals .
From ‘IRIS’ magazine , October 1987.
On December 8th , 1984 , the RUC deployed in massive numbers to obstruct the funerals of IRA Volunteers Willie Fleming and Danny Doherty in Derry. (‘1169…’Comment : apologises for the sight of certain pro-system politicians in that link : those same useless , conniving and treacherous politicians are now calling on people to inform to the British forces on those whom , like Volunteers Willie Fleming and Danny Doherty , refuse to accept British mis-rule in Ireland.) In the vicinity of the Fleming family home in the tiny Gobnascale area , the RUC fought hand to hand with heavily outnumbered mourners but , later , in the Creggan area , when faced with a determined thousands-strong crowd , the RUC stayed cautiously well back and the funeral passed off without further incident . The protection of the crowd enabled the IRA to fire a rifle salute and to provide a uniformed Guard of Honour for their fallen comrades .
Sights such as these undoubtedly enraged British ministers and unionist politicians, since they contradicted British efforts to present the IRA as a ‘criminal conspiracy’ and claim that the bankrupt Six-County state was returning to ‘normal’ . (‘1169…’ Comment : surreal now to witness the Adams Family attempt to ‘normalise’ the British presence as they dismiss present-day anti-partition militants as part of a “criminal conspiracy” !)
But the IRA presence at those funerals was not the cause of the RUC offensive at same – the RUC attacked mourners on many occasions when they knew quite well that an IRA Firing Party salute had already taken place , or would not be taking place . The funeral of IRA Volunteer Seán McIlvenna is a prime example of RUC thuggery after the fact…….