We look back at the stories that were making the headlines in the Andersonstown News this week in 1979
Gerry Fitt resigns from London
GERRY Fitt has resigned as leader of the SDLP and from the party itself. He said at a press conference in London this morning that Sinn Féin backing for the SDLP’s attitude to the Atkins Conference was the last straw.
He also condemned what he terms as ‘republican’ elements in the party’s representatives at local councils and stated that these elements “tacitly supported Sinn Féin.”
The SDLP’s chairman Brid Rodgers described the allegations as “nonsense” and said that they didn’t require answering.
“We will not forsake our aspirations for Irish unity,” she added.
Party Secretary Dan McAreavey said that at the recent conference in Newcastle there was “total harmony” and Gerry Fitt was in agreement with everything that was said.
The two front-runners now for the position of leader is deputy leader John Hume and Austin Currie with Seamus Mallon as a possible dark horse.
A’town Co-Op can’t get work with HE
Andersonstown Building Co-Op, founded in 1975, are getting no Housing Executive contracts; and they have been informed that because of ‘orders from above’ they won’t be receiving any.
Despite having tendered for every contract put out by the Executive, and knowing their tenders to have been approved and recommended by quantity surveyors, they have been consistently refused work.
Ever since their first contract in February 1975 the only contract they got was to complete a job abandoned by another builder.
Mr McDonald, HE Contracts’ Manager for West Belfast and South Belfast, said that he had no complaints about the Co-Op’s work. In fact, on their first contract to refurbish houses and flats in Moyard and Ardmonagh, they were the last builder to arrive on the job and the first to hand over completed houses. Mr McDonald has admitted to the Co-Op that there is a scarcity of good builders in West Belfast and that he would be pleased with work of the standard produced by Andersonstown Co-Op.
However, a recent contract to roof 32 houses in Victoria Barracks, which the Co-Op seemed to be sure of getting, was suddenly shelved at the last moment. More worrying is the case of nine houses in Albert Street abandoned after the collapse of the Lake Glen Company over six months ago. The Co-Op immediately applied for the work saying that they could commence immediately. They were told that the work was urgent and that they would be informed poste haste. They are still waiting for word, but another contractor is now completing the job.
The Co-Op were told that one reason for not getting HE work could be the fact that they are registered as a Friendly Society, not a limited company, and should they go bankrupt that the Executive might have difficulty obtaining compensation. Their solicitor has since informed them that this is nonsense and that they are in a sounder assets position with their present status.
Tomelty play a success
“THE greatest ever!” This was how director Seán O’Docherty described the audience who turned out in droves to watch the performance of Joseph Tomelty’s Mugs and Money last Friday and Sunday nights.
St Joseph’s College Theatre was bunged to the doors on both nights; in fact many disgruntled people had to be turned away.
Mugs and Money was the first in a series of plays to be staged by St Michael’s Drama Society as they make a welcome return after an absence of several years; and judging by last weekend’s effort there is a shining future ahead of the group.
The audience was obviously delighted with the performance, the players receiving no less than four curtain calls on Friday night. And after the presentation many people came forward wishing to join the drama group.
A special feature of the Sunday night celebration was the appearance on stage of Joe Tomelty himself. He was received warmly and cheered for several minutes; and he told the audience how delighted he was to be back in Andersonstown and he congratulated the players and director on their excellent work.
When the history of drama in Belfast came to be written, he said, the Falls would loom largely in the telling. It was hard to believe that one area could have done so much in the theatrical field. With the coming of moving pictures, said Joe, it was feared that drama would go to the wall, but this didn’t happen. Drama suffered a slight setback with the advent of television but then, as its obituary was being written, there came an upsurge of interest in the enthusiasm for, the stage.
“Deo Gratias,” said Joe Tomelty. “Drama is back to stay.”