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.

Bishop Cahal Daly stated – ” The armalite and the ballot box cannot be carried together .” (‘1169…’ Comment : Not so much that they “cannot be carried together” as that sections of those who were involved in this struggle and attempted to do so were quickly overcome by how easier (and financially rewarding) political life was when one joined the constitutionalists full time and deserted the revolutionary path.) Bishop Daly had turned his back on centuries of history and in particular on Irish history between 1918-21 . An IRA statement calling on the Bishop to spell out whether he believed the British presence in the North was morally good , was left unanswered .

Eventually , after more attacks on the Republican Movement , culminating in remarks at the funeral of Judge William Doyle in January 1983 , Bishop Cahal Daly summed up the Catholic hierarchy’s political stance on ‘violence’ and the ‘legitmacy of the Northern Ireland state’ , in a major speech delivered in St Anne’s Cathedral , Belfast , on March 22nd , 1983 . Misquoting the philosopher Karl von Clausewitz about war being the pursuit of political aims through other means ( according to Bishop Daly he said that war is ‘diplomacy conducted by other means’) the Bishop attempted to prove that since ‘war’ and ‘politics’ are – contrary to Clausewitz’s view – different in nature , a group such as the Republican Movement *, which upholds the right to take up arms against a foreign occupation , cannot “…honestly and credibly claim to be a political movement..” (‘1169..’ Comment * not to be confused with the group which left the Movement in 1986 and registered itself as a ‘political party’ with Leinster House shortly afterwards.)

This intellectual balderdash was a poor attempt , in the words of the song , to ‘brand Ireland’s fight 800 years of crime’ . But the bishop was to sink even lower : after saying that “…nationalists must acknowledge that the Stormont regime had notable successes and achievements to its credit .. ” , Bishop Daly went on to openly justify the UDR , RUC and the legitmacy of the six-county state in his infamous St Anne’s Speech…….

From ‘IRIS’ magazine , July/August 1982.

William (64) and Anne Stone (55) have been living in their Ballymurphy home since 1954 , and have nine children – five daughters and four sons – aged between 14 and 35 . The eldest son , 26-year-old Liam , has been in the cages of Long Kesh Prison since 1976 .

By Ballymurphy standards , the Stone family have been relatively fortunate in one respect , with William in constant employment . Anne , too , had a part-time job at night in a restaurant , and has been actively involved in the Ballymurphy Tenants’ Association since its beginnings . Anne was asked what it was like moving in to the Ballymurphy area : ” We were allocated a house in Ballymurphy in 1954 . We lived with our parents at that stage on the Upper Crumlin Road with our four daughters . Just where ‘Ballymurphy’ was I didn’t know . We arrived , and the house was in a deplorable state .”

Asked what were the facilities like at the time , Anne replied – ” When we arrived in 1954 we hadn’t a school , we had one shop for 600 houses , no bus services . We had nothing . A band of us got together to improve things . We organised voluntary subscriptions , jumble sales , ballots , bus runs – the lot . Ballymurphy was flung up , 600 houses , and it was supposed to have been built for young people with young families ! ” Anne was asked about the early days spent getting things organised , and what she witnessed during the ‘Civil Rights Riots’ . And she was asked about her imprisoned son , Liam…….

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.

In March , 1987 , the (P)IRA issued a statement listing 25 funerals since December 1983 at which mourners had been harassed , threatened or physically attacked by the RUC . The (P)IRA statement described British ‘Law and Order’ Minister Nicholas Scott’s words – ” Even in war , people are allowed to bury their dead in peace and dignity…” as “…the height of hypocrisy , coming from the architect of ghoulishness..” , and stated – ” The (P)IRA agrees that people should have the right to bury their dead in peace , and operations such as today’s * will not recur if the RUC respects nationalist and republican dead.” ( * On Friday , March 13th , 1987 , the (P)IRA exploded a bomb at Roselawn Cemetery gates , one hour before an RUC man was to be buried in that cemetery.)

Despite the ritual establishment ‘hoo-hah’ of condemnation , it was clear that the (P)IRA action at Roselawn accurately reflected the deep anger of many nationalists . It was this anger and the determined and courageous resistance shown by the mourners and bereaved families at three subsequent funerals which finally forced the RUC to retreat .

Initially , the RUC ignored the (P)IRA’s warning : the funeral of Derry (P)IRA Volunteer Gerard Logue on March 24th , 1987 , was delayed for two hours by RUC efforts to hijack the coffin . The RUC went to the extent of seizing the keys of the hearse and threatening to drive it themselves . The mourners were squeezed together by the RUC , and then they were brutally batoned by them . The atmosphere throughout was extremely tense , but the determination of the anguished Logue family and of the 3,000 mourners held out , forcing the RUC eventually to back off . But still , the British forces of ‘law and order’ would not completely abandod their ghoulish policy…….

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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