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

 Lower Falls Youth Club Halloween Disco
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Lower Falls Youth Club Halloween Disco

Prepared  to let prisoners die? – Fitt

IN a long interview on an RTÉ programme on Tuesday night last, Gerry Fitt refused to deny that he was prepared to see coffins out of Long Kesh before Christmas.
 
He retorted on a number of occasions that he was more interested in the victims of the hunger strikers than in the hunger strikers themselves. He said that coffins coming out of Long Kesh would be no different to him, than the hundreds of coffins carried out of small churches throughout the North over the past ten years. He also repeated his attack on Cardinal Ó Fiaich and Bishop Daly, saying that their interest in the H-Block issue has not been helpful, and also that they were identifying themselves with the aims of the hunger strikers, even though this had been denied by Bishop Daly on the same programme.
 
Bishop Daly stressed that the Cardinal and himself considered it their Christian duty to work for a solution of the H-Block issue. He also emphasised his own personal concern for prisoners in general, going back as far as 1959, and later as an official prison visitor to prisons in the south.
 
He made the point in his interview, that conditions in the six counties were abnormal, and cited the example of one particular district in his own diocese which had not go one person in prison prior to 1969, but which now had 80 young people serving long prison sentences.
 
He said that he often wondered what his own reaction would have been, if as a young person growing up, he had witnessed the serious crimes committed by people in uniform who were supposed to be upholding the law and order, but who were never convicted in any court.
 
He stressed that under such circumstance the demand for special prisoner conditions could not be termed unreasonable.

 

The Chieftains at Andersonstown Leisure Centre, November 1980
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The Chieftains at Andersonstown Leisure Centre, November 1980

Hunger-strike support grows

IN the past two weeks, the campaign around the prisoners’ demands and in support of the H-Block hunger strikers has moved from strength to strength throughout Ireland.
There have been major rallies in every one of the six counties and in Belfast the H-Block co-ordinating committee has been consolidating its initial support. Hunger Strike Action Committees have been formed and there have been well organised local demonstrations. All anti-unionist areas now have permanent hunger strike displays.
 
The usual format is a mock H-Block cell poster display, and dramatic formations of coffins. There are round-the-clock vigils and token hunger strikes. Daily evening outdoor prayer meetings are being held in most areas.
 
Support for the prisoners’ demands continues to increase overseas. Twenty Australian MPs including a minster in the current coalition government, Liberal HD Thompkin and two shadow ministers from the Labour opposition, Lionel Bowen and Bob Hawk, have endorsed the demands of the Irish prisoners.
 
Then trade union organisations, most notably the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council – representing one million members – have also endorsed the five demands, while in the New Zealand four trade unions have pledged their support.
Further support comes from five students unions, twenty university professors, Victoria section of Amnesty International, two city councils, and the Fiji Trades and Labour Council.
 
To date, 25,000 signatures have been collected for the petition including five hundred from New Guinea.
 
British Embassies in Europe have been attempting to deny their government’s responsibilities for the conditions in the H-Blocks and Armagh by stating that the H-Block delegation in Europe is telling blatant lies and should not be given media coverage.
 
In response, the delegation has challenged the British authorities to public debate in Belgium, where it is presently engaged in a publicity tour.
 
It is expected, however, that the British government’s weakness over the H-Block situation in general and the hunger strike situation in particular, will again be demonstrated as was the case in New York last week, by their refusing to publicly debate their position with a representative of the protesting prisoners.

Enjoying the Senior Citizens function in Andersonstown Leisure Centre this week in 1980
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Enjoying the Senior Citizens function in Andersonstown Leisure Centre this week in 1980

Disappeared: £1,000 reward

TWO-and-half-years after their disappearance, there is still no trace of two young Andersonstown men; and their families are now offering £1,000 to anyone who can tell their present whereabouts.
 
Any such information can be forwarded to Box 100, Andersonstown News.
 
Brian McKinney
On Thursday morning 25th May, Brian McKinney, then Knockdhu Park, left his home to go to the Housing Executive garage at the junction of Bearnagh Drive and North Link.
He hasn’t been seen since. Apparently, two men in a car called at the garage at about 8.50 that morning, enquiring about Brian.
 
John McClory
The same morning his friend John McClory, nineteen at the time, left his home at Gartree Place at 7am to go to work with Enterprise Ulster at Mary Peter’s Track. He hasn’t been seen since.
 
Brian is the son of William and Margaret McKinney, and John is the son of Mary McClory, whose husband is dead.
 
These parents have spent two-and-a-half-years of acute anxiety and would welcome any information at all that might lead to their sons’ whereabouts.
 
They have turned every possible source of information known to them but to no avail. They believe that there may be some person, or people, in the area with some information; and they hope that the offer of a reward may persuade these to come forward.

Just one last tune before it goes. A young girl plays the piano as the removal van arrives on the Falls Road
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Just one last tune before it goes. A young girl plays the piano as the removal van arrives on the Falls Road