We look back at the stories that were making the headlines in the Andersonstown News this week in 1979
Leisure Centre is the best in Belfast
AFTER just six months opened, Andersonstown Leisure Centre has been established as the most used centre in the Belfast area. Of the big centres, Andersonstown is well ahead of its nearest rival Maysfield, with a present membership of almost seven thousand.
Maysfield, now open two years, has about five and a half thousand members. Approximately eleven thousand people every week use Andersonstown Centre, almost twice the Six County average.
“At the height of the summer season,” said Centre manager Tony Briggs, “over 14,000 people every week took part in the Centre activities. We’ve been open 24 weeks now, and we reckon that about a quarter of a million people have passed through the centre.”
Swimming is the most popular activity but other sports are gaining in popularity. The squash ball courts are now in regular use with many clubs and groups booked for the New Year. Other non-sporting activities are well attended, and Mr Briggs said that a full programme of activities has been planned for 1980. These will include fashion shows, féiseanna, concerts, a motor show and boxing shows, one of which will feature Welsh amateur boxers.
Leisure activities, as compared to sport, are a very important part of the centre’s function.
“Over half those who attend every evening,” said Mrs Briggs, “are spectators. The purely social side of the centre is important and we believe this provides a vital outlet for people in the area. Our restaurant facilities are well used, as can be seen from the crowds who come at lunch and at tea-time. We have founded a teenager’s club, with a special TV room, and darts, and disco facilities etc.
“We are not trying to compete with local youth clubs, however, we feel that our activities and youth club activities in the area, complement each other.”
Just last week the indoor sauna and solarium was opened.
“Twenty pence for ten minutes – any longer and you’d fry!” said a centre worker.
As the spring approaches, the outdoor pitches, complete with flood lights, will be put to full use; and further land has been acquired, stretching as far as the motorway, which will be developed to facilitate other sporting activities, and will include a grass area and a ‘trim trail’ – a grass track encircling the whole complex for keep-fit, jogging etc.
LOOKING back on 1979, the Irish people have little to be thankful for. Ten years on from 1969, 60-odd years after 1916, and 800 years after the annexation of our land by England, blood still flows in our towns and cities.
Irishmen and Englishmen still battle with one another over the basic principle of whether the Irish people are entitled to practice the internationally recognised democratic right of determining their own destiny without outside interference.
The basic fact can become blurred in the type of long drawn out colonial conflict in our country, and especially when the pro-British section of our population become involved on the side of the colonial power.
In an attempt to cloud their naked colonial involvement in Irish affairs, and justify the unjustifiable, Britain has continually introduced various diversions. One of these was to state that the conflict in Ireland was a religious one. Another was to imply that she was here to safeguard the ‘democratic rights’ of the people of ‘Northern Ireland’.
Yet another was the assertion that she was here to guard against a ‘Marxist’ takeover of the whole of Ireland. But surely, her most ludicrous diversion to date has been the ostrich like insistence that the ‘Irish Dimension’ is not an issue.
Britain will give credence to any dimension, be it religious, socio economic, class or anything else, but will definitely baulk at the thought of any worthwhile or open discussion of the Irish Dimension.
Could it be that she realises that the very discussion of the Irish Dimension immediately leaves her in the position of an uninvited guest, and uninvited guests are either asked to leave or are ejected.
In this respect, this year has not been a good year for Britain, because 1979 was definitely the year that the Irish Dimension came into its own. After years of neglect it finally took hold of the people’s imagination, and Gerry Fitt and Jack Lynch disregarded it at their peril, and all signs point to Britain doing exactly the same thing.
As we enter the New Year, this is the faint light at the bottom of a very dark and foreboding tunnel. In the New Year let us hope that the Irish Dimension will be discussed freely and openly by all Irishmen in the sure knowledge that therein lies the solution to our ‘British Dimension’.
Senior citizens Christmas meal
ST Agnes’ Indoor Bowling Club entertained a number of senior citizens to a Christmas Dinner and social on Friday in La Salle Secondary School.
Mr Tommy Boyd, Honorary Secretary, would like to acknowledge and thank all those people who contributed towards the welfare and enjoyment of the senior citizens. It is only by the goodwill and generosity of the kind people that we perform this annual function.
The committee also wishes to thank Mrs Madge Boyle, caterer, for a very enjoyable meal; and special thanks to her staff for their efficiency and consideration towards our senior citizens.
The guests included the President of Falls Bowling Club, Mr Terry Laverty and his wife May, and the Match Secretary of the Club Mr Brendan Burns and his wife Regina. Music for dancing and singalong was by Mr Frank Wilson on the organ. Mr Brendan Burns, who sponsored the club competitions, presented a trophy and tea-service to Mr Eddie McVeigh, winner of the club’ singles championship. Mr Burns presented prizes to Mr Tommy Boyd and Mr Len McCusker, the winners of the Pairs Competition.