We look at the stories that were making the headlines this week in 1983

Political earthquake as Gerry Adams takes West Belfast

THE findings of the Andersonstown News election survey, as published six days before polling day, were vindicated at the count last Friday. In our front page article we announced that "the election poll revealed that the sitting M.P. Gerry Fitt will do surprisingly well, but also indicated substantial support for the Sinn Féin candidate Gerry Adams," And so it proved!

On the day, Adams polled 16,379 votes, approximately 47.9 per cent of the Nationalist vote, and just 1.5 per cent less than we had forecast. At the same time, Gerry Fitt's performance which we had indicated would be "the biggest shock" of the campaign, surprised even the candidate himself. Our poll had predicted that Hendron and Fitt were running neck and neck and indeed at the close of the count only 608 votes separated the pair. 
A surprising feature of the West Belfast contest was the number of votes which went to Gerry Fitt. It appears that the Independent Socialist picked up around 5,000 Unionist votes. In October of last year, the combined D.U.P., O.U.P. and P.U.P. vote amounted to 19,154. This time round, however, it slumped to 4,834 with the remainder going to Gerry Fitt. Counters in the City Hall acknowledged that Mr. Fitt polled exceptionally well in the Shankill, Ballygomartin and Forthriver voting centres. Alliance leader Oliver Napier conceded after the election that his party's supporters in West Belfast had opted for the candidate "most likely to beat Sinn Féin". In practice this meant Alliance supporters added 1,000 votes to both Dr Hendron’s and Gerry Fitt’s total.

It is believed this is the first time Mr. Gerry Fitt has ever received substantial support from the Unionist community, despite the non-sectarian image created for him by the British media over the past ten years. So great in fact was the support from areas such as Springmartin, West Circular and the Battenburg Street area that Mr. Fitt has decided to reconsider his earlier decision to leave Ireland if defeated in West Belfast.

An amazing feature of the Sinn Féin vote is that it leapt from the October figure of 10,367 to 16,379, an increase of 6,012 votes, or almost 58 per cent.

Rumours of Curley’s changing hands is ‘wrong’

‘Curley’ Kennedy, owner of the massive Andersonstown supermarket yesterday scotched rumours that his business was up for sale.

“These rumours are definitely wrong,” said Curley, and continued, “but they’re nothing new. One week in the trade someone will tell you Stewart’s are taking us over, and the next week they will say it will be Dunne’s.”

Mr Kennedy stressed he had no ideas as to how the rumour had originated.
However, over the last month there has been speculation that a million pound deal was in the offing, involving both the premises of Curley’s supermarket and surrounding properties.

One source claimed this week that Fine Fare, who control the Stewart’s and Crazy Prices chain, are keenly interested in the West Belfast store. The source suggested Fine Fare had offered half a million pounds for Curley’s Supermarket, £34,000 for an adjoining garage, and £10,000 for McGovern’s Yard which is situated behind the supermarket.
It is believed any potential buyer would wish to level the garage and warehouses beside the supermarket and utilise the area for parking space.

Also this week, a Newsletter lead story carried a denial from Dunnes’ Stores that they were planning to develop a hypermarket complex in Celtic Park. Nevertheless there is still much talk of a Dunne’s Store being built on the former football ground site.

The original story linking Dunnes with Celtic Park appeared in the Andersonstown News on May 19th, over three weeks prior to the Newsletter article.


WHILE it is unfortunate, to say the least, that any part of the Irish people should have to wait for a British election to decide who their leaders will be or to make known their opinions, nevertheless, there are lessons to be learned from last week's Westminster poll.

The first, we think, should be the S.D.L.P. Since it was founded in 1970, the S.D.L.P. has sought a strong clear mandate from the Nationalist people to speak on their behalf; and that mandate has never been forthcoming because there has always been a substantial section of Nationalists who could not, in all conscience, give the S.D.L.P. the carte blanche it demanded. In last week's election, Sinn Féin brought out those votes – 103,000 of them; and while they may not all indicate complete support for the Republican Movement, they do not belong to the S.D.L.P. Which means that that party's policies and approach lack something vital and that people are aware of that.
The attitude of London and Dublin to the Sinn Féin vote was as expected.

Despite their supposed love for and faith in the "democratic" process, their spokesmen declared that they wouldn't even speak to the peoples' choice in West Belfast; even though Gerry Adams has so far given no indication that he wants to speak to them. And the spectacle of James Prior, a person who deploys an army of over 20,000, telling anyone to reject violence, must be the English joke of the year. The lesson for these people, is that those 103,000 votes must be taken into consideration – or the "Irish" problem will remain unsolved.

Lastly, what can Sinn Féin learn from its successes? All those 103,000 votes aren't specifically Sinn Fein's. Many of them have been given reluctantly, by people who don't usually vote because in British elections many Nationalists don't pretend to be making a choice when they have been given no choice to make. Last week a substantial number of our people rejected the S.D.L.P. and voted for "principled leadership." Can Sinn Fein let those people know where that principled leadership will lead them?