We look back at the stories that were making the headlines in the Andersonstown News this week in 1980

Shankill taxi ride ends in murder 

AS Downtown and the BBC have declared a blackout on all references to the murder of 21-year-old Alexander ‘Speedy’ Reid from Jamacia Street, the young man’s friends have asked Andersonstown News to give some of the events leading to his death.

The terrible tragedy may serve as a warning to others who find themselves in similar circumstances.

Young Mr Reid and his friend had had a few drinks in the city centre, and were heading home before closing time on Thursday night. They decided at first to take an Ardoyne taxi home, but seeing a crowd at the Smithfield stand, they went instead to North Street intending to go to Woodvale on a Shankill taxi.

According to Mr Reid’s friend, one man boarded the taxi along with them. Apparently this man either recognised them or heard them mention Ardoyne, because he asked the taxi driver to stop at Berlin Street, he went into a pub at the corner, and came out with a crowd of men who pulled the two young Ardoyne lads out of the taxi.

They were stood up against the wall and abused. Mr Reid’s friend cried that he was from Carrickfergus and a Protestant and he was struck and let go. As he ran off young Alex Reid broke free and also made off but was soon captured by the Shankill people, some of whom battered him to death with a concrete block.

Mr Reid’s body was discovered after a civilian stopped a police car in Berlin Street and told of hearing moans coming from a nearby derelict property. A search got underway and the body was found lying face down in a pool of blood. Bricks and glass were strewn about the garage. Mr Reid is believed to have died only minutes before the police arrived.

The area where his body was found is infamous for gang fights among youths. “You get fighting and shouting all night long, said one elderly resident. “From the screams you would think somebody was being killed,” he added.

Political talks to end?

PEOPLE close to the leadership of the SDLP are now openly admitting that their decision to participate in the constitutional conference now taking place at Stormont was a major blunder.

After initial skirmishes in the opening debate on agenda procedure, their initial fears, that Ian Paisley had rigged the agenda in prior consultation with Humphrey Atkins, have been fully confirmed. They now pessimistically forecast an early death for the conference.

Mr Paisley has succeeded in preventing the SDLP from having any meaningful debate on power-sharing which is the SDLP’s one and only platform for survival. He has succeeded in having his version of ‘majority rule’ accepted as a basic principle of any agreement and this not only refers to one party gaining overall support from the electorate and forming a cabinet but also refers to a ‘group of parties’ gaining overall support, which effectively rules out any SDLP participation in government.

Within party circles, the leadership is trying to offload the blame onto Gerry Fitt, by stressing his complete lack of political knowhow and intelligence in the run up to the conference. This is seen by many party members as nothing more than a face-saving exercise to cover up what could quite well be the most humiliating experience for the SDLP to date.

Another high ranking party member stated that the Irish dimension, which up until now has been looked upon by the leadership as a trump card to be discarded for some short term advantage, will now take on a new meaning as the strong ‘nationalist’ lobby press for a solution on an All-Ireland basis. 


West Belfast arts festival

PLANS are going ahead for a West Belfast Cultural Festival in mid-April to be held in Beechmount Leisure Centre.

The liaison committee which was set up last November with the intention of displaying the need for a cultural-arts centre was chaired by Councillor Liam Hunter and it was proposed that a cultural festival should be organised within the area and centred around Beechmount Leisure Centre.

Manager of the Centre, John McGinley, has come up with a well thought out and comprehensive programme for the proposed festival which he presented to the Liaison Committee at their meeting on Monday night last.

The programme was received with enthusiasm by the Committee which included representatives from the Department of Leisure Services at the City Hall. Mr McGinley’s proposals include a Band Parade, Drama, Traditional Singing, Dancing and Poetry competitions, Arts & Crafts exhibition, Ceilí Dancing and a Folk Concert with a major folk group.

Application forms will be distributed to all schools, youth clubs and cultural groups in the West Belfast area. It is hoped to persuade firms in the area to sponsor events during the festival.

The success of this venture will be a pointer to the Committee and the Arts Council, whether or not there is a need for a Cultural Centre in West Belfast.

We will be keeping our readers up to date on the proposed Festival in future editions of the Andersonstown News.