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Féile Women Singers in Belfast have unveiled a community singing and film project funded by the Community Heritage Fund.
RENEE Quinn, Executive Director of the PIPS Suicide Prevention Ireland charity, was bursting with pride last Saturday morning as she expressed her appreciation for those who attended the Darkness into Light climb up Cave Hill and who organised other events to help fundraise for PIPS Charity. "It was an early start for us all and it wasn't always an easy climb up to the top of Cave Hill, rucksacks were heavy, the rain and wind were coming horizontally, and on some occasions felt like it was coming upwards! But that paled into insignificance when I looked at the number of mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and survivors who walked alongside us in their grief with just their thoughts and memories, remembering the their loved ones. It was a very humbling, emotional experience and I’m so glad PIPS staff, volunteers and our family group were able to take part alongside Ormeau Park Darkness into Light Committee.
THE joy and the relief etched on the faces of the Ballymurphy families yesterday were an inspirational reminder of what can be achieved when people come together as a support community to seek the rights of which they have been deprived. That 10 people were brutally and ruthlessly cut down across three days in August 1971 was a crime of appalling magnitude – but the decades of vilification that successive generations of the families of the dead were subjected to by a combination of the British black ops machine and a compliant media were also a crime of unimaginable callousness. The responsibility of the media in the North in spreading black information – referred to by relatives at yesterday’s desperately moving press conference – is a little explored journalistic travesty. Quite simply, the attacks on the reputations of the dead and the pain inflicted on their families would not have been possible had reporters here not acted as stenographers for Thiepval Barracks propaganda and our profession deserves to be reminded of that in the hope that it will never be allowed to happen again. If anyone had hoped that the clearing of the Ballymurphy dead would be met with the same speed and humanity with which David Cameron reacted in 2010 to the finding of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry they were to be disappointed. But in fact anyone familiar with this Conservative administration – and the families are certainly counted among that number – will most likely have been prepared for Downing Street to display the same contempt for justice and decency that they have done during the Brexit process and the Covid pandemic. The families say they will now take a step back, rest, regroup and consider what their next step is. That is the right thing to do – not just for their own peace of mind, but because we all must wait now to see what emerges from the Tory promise in the Queen’s speech this week to bring forward legislation to deal with legacy issues related to the Troubles. The Tories last week briefed the British press that they would move to put in place an effective amnesty for British soldiers, even if that means an amnesty for republican and loyalist paramilitaries too. So in effect, the options open to the relatives are entirely dependent on the whim of a British government which is able to push through virtually whatever it pleases thanks its Commons majority. That is nothing new. The Ballymurphy families have faced down British obstructionism, stalling and prevarication for decades. They have watched campaign colleagues die before they got the chance to hear the words of vindication that were spoken on Tuesday by Mrs Justice Keegan. They don’t want to go head-to-head again with the British government and its bottomless supply of money resources and bad faith. But they will if they have to. The Parachute Regiment was out of control in 1971 and slaughtered the innocents. That must have its answer.
“Well, old man, I will tell you news of your son... truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long... but at the length truth will out”Launcelot, the Merchant of Venice THE truth is out. What the families knew, what their community supported them to say, what some politicians were persuaded to agree with, what the rest of us were committed to saying with them – the dead of the Ballymurphy Massacre were unjustifiably killed by the British army. The British army covered it up. The British army told lies. The families were treated with contempt. But that is the past. Today the truth is out. Father Hugh Mullan and Frank Quinn were shot dead going to aid Bobby Clarke, lying critically hurt in the field beside Springfield Park. Heroes to their families and to their community. Noel Philips, Joan Connolly, Danny Teggart and Joseph Murphy were guilty of nothing when gunned down, and the use of lethal force was unjustified. When Joan Connolly lay injured she was abused instead of assisted, assistance that may have made a difference as she cried for help with her face blown off by gunfire.
THE Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) have carried out a joint site visit with the Public Health Agency at the Mullaghglass landfill site.
A NORTH Belfast duo has sought the help of Prince's guitarist in their quest to release new music.
COMMUNITIES Minister Deirdre Hargey has officially launched the Féile na gCloigíní Gorma festival in Upper Springfield. The festival, which takes its name from the bluebells which appear on the Black Mountain each May runs from Friday with a variety of events both online and in person, including a sunrise swim at Helen’s Bay, a panel discussion on the Belfast Hills and a family fishing trip, with Covid regulations applying. It culminates with an online finale concert showcasing the best in local talent including performances by Brendan ‘Nipper’ Quinn, Ciaran Quinn, Run for Cover, Brian Hicks and Jake Mac Saiciais.
3,000 Antrim Gaels calling for the establishment of a Citizens' Assembly on Irish unity have hailed a commitment by the Seanad to support their call as “a stepping stone”. The backing of Ireland's second house came about after Independent Senator Frances Black proposed an amendment to a Fianna Fáil motion on the Good Friday Agreement. Discussing how the idea for the letter came about, former Antrim senior footballer Paddy Cunningham said: “Jane Adams and I have been friends for many years now both in a sporting sense and through business. We are very conscious of the impact of Brexit within society and within business. “We met for coffee and discussed our own personal feelings on the issue then we went back to our clubs and friend groups. It was evident that our frustrations at the lack of planning for constitutional change were widespread. “From that we formulated a working group which included our Antrim starting 15. It snowballed from there.” Paddy Cunningham says he was astounded at the speed of the response. “We didn’t see it becoming so big and grand so quickly," he said. "We believe that the GAA as a 32 county organisation has a massive role to play in the discussion about the future shape of our island and the growing calls for a poll on Irish unity. We want to be involved in these conversations and formulate opinions going forward and we hope this will be a catalyst for other counties to come on board.” All-Ireland winner and former camogie All Star Jane Adams added: “We have the template there and we hope that other counties would like to use it. “For us, the letter is about giving Gaels the platform to engage in the conversation and we hope that the letter will be starting point to encourage and develop meaningful conversations among most Gaels. It highlighted the need for the Irish Government to begin planning for constitutional change." And the pair say they're optimistic that the Antrim initiative will inspire other counties to follow their lead on the call for a New Ireland. “We have seen the establishment of various types of forums across the country in recent years to provide a platform for debate and discussion," says Jane. “This letter was our way to engage in that debate and we would love to see other Gaels adopting similar methods. If any of them needed any help, then myself and Paddy would be delighted to assist them." “The GAA is in the heart of communities and our members come from all different political persuasions and none. This is where the meaningful debate becomes a reality. “Everyone within the organisation is entitled to have their own opinion and if we discuss it within a forum for meaningful debate then it broadens the conversation.” Welcoming the backing of the SDLP and Sinn Féin, Paddy said: “The reaction which we have received far and wide has been overwhelming. We were delighted to receive the endorsement of Colum Eastwood and Mary Lou McDonald but this is very much Gael on Gael. “I have been contacted by multiple people who were very encouraged and are keen to get involved. I think it is important to note that we are not asking for anything that hasn’t already been agreed. “23 years ago the Good Friday Agreement was signed and I think time has dramatically changed since then. “The people at that time embraced the agreement and myself and Jane are the outworkings of that. As a father of three children, I would hope that in 25 years time Ireland would be a in a totally different place for my children. “I feel that there would be great benefits to an all-Ireland education system, an all-Ireland economy and health system. That can only be achieved through cross-border communication and a Citizens' Assembly on the issue of Irish reunification going forward."
CONCERN continues over the high rates of Covid in outbreak areas of Donegal with local GP representatives postulating that young people having cross-border parties may be the source of the spread of the infections.
We look back at the stories that were making the headlines in the Andersonstown News this week in 1981
Belfastmedia.com invited Ciarán de Baróid, one of the first people to raise his voice for the families of the victims of the Ballymurphy Massacre, to reflect on this week's Inquest finding that all the victims were innocent.
PUPILS and staff at St Paul’s Primary School in Beechmount have raised a whopping £3,000 for AutismNI by participating in Superhero Week during Autism Awareness Month. Handing over the cheque, Key Stage Two Autisim Specific Class teacher, Mrs Róisín McNeill said that she was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of the school community. Speaking to the Andersonstown News, she said: “We took part in Superhero Week in aid of AutismNI which formed part of Autism Awareness Month. “We decided to participate as it is a charity that is close to our hearts and close to the hearts of the community as well. You don’t realise how many people are affected by or know someone who is affected by autism. “We were blown away by the response to this fundraising effort. The children loved it and the fact that they were dressing up as superheroes tied in with our message that autism isn’t something that shouldn’t be spoken about. “It is something that should be accepted and it is something to be proud of as it is part of these children’s identity.” St Paul’s Primary School have recently established two Autism Specific Classes for Key Stage One and Two. These classes allow children on the autism spectrum who would have difficulty in a mainstream setting to remain at the school by providing a tailored space that is safe and nurturing for their needs. Explaining the need for these classes, principal Sean McNamee said: “This year we started to offer autism specialist classes within St Paul’s. There is no other provision in West Belfast and we had typically been bussing children across town to attend specialist classes when mainstream schools haven’t been most appropriate for them. “The classes have up to eight children with three adults. There is a lot of intensive support. As well as that, it allows them to be in a mainstream setting and allows them to be included in other classes Covid permitting. “This also means that these children can prepare for the sacraments with the other children, they can take part in assemblies and such but their needs are met within small group sizes. “The other thing is, this allows us to develop our own expertise within the school and support other children who have autistic traits within classes and who are coping in mainstream education. It allows us to offer additional support to our staff and those children as well.”
A NUMBER of the city’s key heritage and cultural institutions have come together to mark 250 years since the birth of one of Belfast’s most important citizens – the abolitionist, philanthropist and reformer, Mary Ann McCracken.
THE father of a young West Belfast woman, who passed away following a battle with cancer, has hit out following revelations that the Department of Health and its non-departmental bodies do not actively recruit stem cell donors.
CRITICAL new evidence is to be released on Friday, on the 49th anniversary of the murder of a West Belfast schoolgirl.