WE look back at the stories that were making the headlines this week in the Andersonstown News in 1982
Falls bingo hall badly damaged in blaze
A BINGO hall at the Falls Road/Whiterock Road junction was badly damaged in a fire last night less than twelve hours after it was officially opened. The opening of the hall had been apposed by groups and individuals in the area including local clergy, traders and political and social organisations.
Local people had feared that the presence of slot machine bingo in the area would only increase the economic hardship of an already hard-pressed people.
Bingo hall owner Mr George McCann described his premises as the St James’ and District Bingo Social Club Ltd. Mr McCann, who is connected with a city centre amusement arcade said his ‘club’ would be unlike those in Castle Street. Mr McCann saw his patrons “forming a social club which will organise charity functions and excursions’. He also claimed that no one under 21 would be allowed into the ‘club’ which would be geared towards “grannies and the married woman whose children are group up”.
Shopkeepers on the Falls Road did not share Mr McCann’s favourable view of the bingo hall, and they had all made known their opposition to it. One trader felt a “gambling den” would lead to break-ins by youths needing money for the machines. Another spoke of “money needed for food and so on being spent by mothers on bingo”.
At two recent meetings held in the Crescent Community Centre Mr McCann met with some of the people opposed to his new bingo hall. In spite of vehement resistance to his plans, however, he was adamant that the bingo hall would be opening.
A spokesman for the clergy at St John’s told the Andersonstown News that the priests were “concerned about the detrimental affect a gambling premises would have on parochial and family life”.
“Our concern,” the priest said, “is for the people of the area. They are opposed to the opening of this gambling hall and we are supporting their stance on the issue,” he added.
A spokesman for Sinn Féin who have been continuously opposing the opening of the hall, said that if “contrary to the wishes of the people, the bingo hall does go ahead, it will increase the hardship of the low income families who will be attracted to it.”
No pitches, no park for Glen Road residents
A LARGE area near the Glen Road, set aside specifically for playing fields and parkland amenities, lies vacated and barren. Although ground at the back of the Terry McDermott Social Club was levelled off and pitches marked out, no other work has been undertaken on the 32 ½ acre site for over five years.
In the late Sixties impressive plans were drawn up by Lisburn Council for a huge parkland development. Included in the proposals were eight pitches (two all weather), a park, a pavilion with changing rooms, a ‘milk bar’ and a floodlit tarmac area. However, other than some initial work between 1971 and 1973, no real progress has been made on the scheme.
According to a representative for the Tullymore Tenants Association, who have continually pressed for the development to go ahead, the first contractor suddenly left the site and claimed he had been intimidated.
“In actual fact,” said the Tenants’ Association spokesperson, “the contractor’s equipment was never touched, or the workers harassed.” When the Association provide the DoE with evidence to this effect, the contractor agreed to return in six months’ time.
The contractor never resumed work on the parkland project however, and shortly afterwards the Tenants’ Association was informed that he had been declared bankrupt.
The Tenants’ spokesman estimates that the contractor received £200,000 for the preliminary work.
Then in 1979, the DoE stated that the main obstacle blocking an advance in the development was the presence of Travellers near, and on part of the site. After making one unsuccessful attempt to move the Travellers on, the DoE let the matter rest.
The scheme is now the responsibility of the Park and Cemeteries Department and, according to the Tenants’ spokesman, they are claiming that tenders have been invited for the development once again.
Editorial: Ten years on from Stormont fall
TEN years ago this week the British Government faced up to the inevitable and put an end to its puppet regime in Stormont.
The fact that the Unionist puppets had faithfully carried out their masters’ orders for over 50 years before that in suppressing the legitimate aspirations of the Irish people for freedom and democracy was of little avail. The British were quite happy to prop up this undemocratic system with its discriminatory prejudice and suppression as long as it was kept quiet and away from the glare of international attention. Although Stormont didn’t fall until March 1972, its death knell was tolling from 1968 onwards, when the underprivileged and repressed people of the Six Counties decided that they had had enough and were determined to throw off the yoke of suppression once and for all. The international reaction to internment in 1971, the psychological torture in Holywood and Ballykelly, and the mass murder of 13 civilians in Derry in January 1972 finally decided the British puppeteers that it was time for them to take the stage themselves in an effort to stem the rising tide of international opposition to their involvement here.
We should never forget that the British introduced Direct Rule here, not to see that justice be done, but rather to protect their international reputation while at the same time continuing to frustrate the Irish peoples’ legitimate aspiration for freedom.
It is appropriate therefore, on the occasion of the anniversary of the fall of Stormont, that we should vehemently oppose the British Secretary of State’s rolling devolution plans, which are designed to frustrate further the legitimate will of the Irish people.
Violence is an obscenity and the last ten years have been harsh and horrific for the people of the Six Counties, no matter what their religious or political affiliation. But to opt for a return of power to Stormont would be to exchange one obscenity for another, and put the cause of people and freedom back for years.
Charles Stewart Parnell, one of Ireland’s greatest statesmen and patriot, once said that no man could put a limit on the march of a nation. The British have been attempting to do this for centuries without much success. Could it be that this generation will see an end to Britain’s futile attempts at dominion, and the beginning of a long period of peace and prosperity in Ireland both North and South?