We look back at the stories that were making the headlines in the Andersonstown News this week in 1979
Pope must come North
BY the beginning of next week we’ll know if areas north of the border will be included in the Pope’s Irish itinerary. We repeat – if the Pope visits Ireland he must come north – that’s all there is to it.
Besides all the accepted historical and ecclesiastical reasons for a northern visit, a refusal by the Pope to come or by the authorities in Rome or Ireland, to allow him, would be a kick in the teeth for Six County Catholics – a stab in the back which, God knows, they don’t deserve after having had to bear the brunt of Ulster bigotry for so long.
There’s another point: any number of arguments can be put up against a Northern visit – security, antagonising the Protestants, annoying the British etc, but if the Pope doesn’t come ordinary Catholics will feel that they aren’t of any importance, that the Church, like the 26 County government, doesn’t care about them.
The authorities should remember that the Church in Ireland has suffered in the past because of the insensitivity of its senior clearly to the feelings of its ordinary members. Let’s hope they keep this in mind when making their final decision.
Files closed to historians
Historians are being denied access to documents which are alleged to be freely available to them, says Michael Farrell.
New rules recently introduced in the Northern Public Records Office have led to wholesale closures of government records.
Three years ago departmental records were opened to the public under a thirty-year rule as in Britain. Much remained closed, for example, police and prison records and many individual files were marked closed in the catalogues or calendars. Enough appeared to be open to enable historians to throw some light on important and controversial issues like the relationship between the London and Belfast governments, the degree of government responsibility for sectarian practices in the north and so on.
Some months ago new rules were introduced without warning or explanation. All government files, which had previously been freely available, would now have to be ‘vetted’ or censored before being issued and if the censors didn’t approve they would be closed to the public.
“The result has been wholesale closure of records which were formerly open,” said Mr Farrell.
“Since the new system was introduced I have been refused some 50 files or just under half of those I have applied for. This is only the tip of the iceberg, however, since this applied only to the fairly brief period I am researching, roughly 1920-7.
“Other researchers dealing with other periods are experiencing similar problems.
“Incidentally all the records I have applied for should be open even under a 50-year rule since they date from before 1929. It’s worth stressing again that all these records were previously open to the public and of the 50 refused to me I know that at least a dozen have been extensively used by other researchers.
“This of course, gives them, and their interpretations of the period a very considerable advantage.”
Concerts and TV show for Baraka
A CHANGE in personnel for the local rock band Baraka has also meant a change in direction and fortunes.
The new member is guitarist Brendan Hayes (ex-Dodgers) who has added what many feel to be a new dimension to the band. The guitar interplay between Brendan and Rab McCullough is quite something and, subsequently, the tightness and continuity in the rest of the band is now shining through.
The change in fortunes is indicated by their forthcoming tour with world famous rock band AC-DC, a very prestigious forthcoming BBC TV Rock Show, for which they have already recorded a pilot show, and forthcoming gigs at Queen’s and the Polytechnic as well as a tour of colleges and universities in the 26 Counties.
Two of the gigs on the AC-DC tour will be shows in the Ulster Hall on the 22nd and 23rd of August, where they will face their biggest test in front of their home crowd.
Don’t miss them.