(For details on the Anne Windsor protest to be held in Dublin on Saturday February 23rd next , click here.)
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.
Political double standards are wearing thin in the harsh lights of West Belfast , and the Catholic hierarchy’s refusal to back the hunger-strikers in 1981 is not easy to forget . These outbursts do more to reveal the hierarchy’s real fear of the Republican Movement’s political progress , than to sway nationalist voters away from supporting Sinn Fein .
Years of intense political struggle have caused a considerable degree of disaffection with the Catholic hierarchy : it will take more than moral sermons to change that .
[END of ‘THE CATHOLIC HIERARCHY – PROPPING-UP THE ORANGE STATE’]
(NEXT – ‘ERNIE O’MALLEY – SOLDIER OF OGLAIGH na hEIREANN’ : from 1983)
On conditions in the Ballymurphy area since 1954 , Anne Stone said : ” It was a slum until they started doing these repairs recently . It was just used as a transit camp . Right enough , there was mass unemployment and the people sort of lost hope . In some ways Ballymurphy has improved since then . We’re proud of Ballymurphy . Since the early days we’ve had every chance to leave it but there’s no way we would leave . What I like about Ballymurphy is that it’s still part , in some ways , of ‘old Belfast’ – the people all cling together .
For instance , say someone dies in a middle-class place no-one worries about them , but if someone dies here there would be someone round collecting for their family , and letters of sympathy . “ However , in other ways, say the Stones , community spirit has suffered , in particular because of ‘the feuds’ between republicans and the ‘Sticks’.
” I’d like more amenities for the young people , “ says Anne Stone , ” especially those born since this outbreak of ‘the troubles’ began . Now , our youngest girl’s fourteen , and from 1971 she’s been dragged out of her bed thousands of times wrapped only in a blanket , even when she was dying of ‘flu on one occasion . These children have seen nothing else , only Brits and RUC coming and dragging them out of their beds during early morning raids .”
[END of ‘BALLYMURPHY INTERVIEW’]
(NEXT – ‘BALLYMUN INTERVIEW’ : from 1982)
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.
The RUC and the British Army had doubled their numbers to prevent Larry Marley (video link here) being buried . It took seven hours of determined resistance , including sporadic fierce fighting , before Larry Marley was at last laid to rest . Several times in North Belfast , the RUC attempted to close in around the hearse , but they were held back by rows of resolute men and women with arms linked . At the bottom of the Falls Road , almost two thousand people waited for several hours for the cortege , while others congregated elsewhere .
The London ‘Guardian’ newspaper reported that it was – “…the biggest display of republican support since the hunger-strikes . In scenes reminiscent of the mid-1970’s , old women shook their fists at British soldiers leading a column of 35 Land Rovers at the front of the funeral procession up the Falls Road . Patients at the Royal Victoria Hospital came out into the streets in their dressing gowns and slippers to give support…” The world’s press watched events in Belfast , incredulously . Television pictures of armed RUC men attacking mourners , Soweto-style, flashed round the world .
At last , the Irish ‘establishment’ spoke : the attacks on the funeral and on the mourners were “…counter-productive..” , said Dungannon priest Fr. Denis Faul, and he was echoed by the SDLP’s John Hume and Seamus Mallon. ‘Counter-productive’ , that is , to their efforts to persuade nationalists to accept this Irish-based British ‘police force’ . (‘1169…’ Comment : …and weak-kneeded nationalists are still calling for that!) They all failed to straightforwardly denounce the RUC . Ignoring the Marley family who, at a press conference, laid the blame on the RUC , Bishop Cahal Daly – balancing on a self-imposed ‘fence’ – accused both the (P)IRA and the RUC of “…intrusion into a family’s grief..” Then a top UVF loyalist was shot dead by the (P)IRA…….