We look at the stories that were making the headlines this week in the Andersonstown News in 1980
THE hunger strikers have now been without food for 25 days and a position of complete stalemate seems to have been reached. The horrific possibility of coffins coming out of Long Kesh looms closer and closer, and will most surely become a reality unless some group can convince the British government that the demands made by the prisoners amount to no more or no less than recognition that they are in prison because of the special political problems existing in the society they were brought up in.
Bishop Daly made the point some weeks ago, that in one small district in his own diocese over 80 young people are serving long prison sentences, while ten years ago, not one person from that district was in prison.
To us this is the real essence of the demand for special category status, or political status, or whatever label we want to put on it. If we add to this the special methods of interrogation and sentencing used to put the prisoners behind bars, we can see that the prisoners’ claim for special status is a strong one.
We believe that these were the points put to the British Government by the Cardinal and Bishop Daly, and to any outside objective observer, the British Government’s stand on the issue must seem callous in the extreme.
We believe that Gerry Fitt did us all a great disservice when he backed the intransigence of the British Government and attacked the two churchmen for their efforts to resolve the crisis. Therefore, we feel that it is important at this stage that people let the Cardinal and Bishop clearly know that they appreciate their work on behalf of the prisoners, and stand behind them in their efforts to make the ‘true’ position of Long Kesh known to the British Government. This is not an easy task in such an emotional situation, but just as politics is the pursuit of the possible, Christianity is the pursuit of compassion and humanity against all other considerations.
Sportswear and toy fair at La Salle
LA Salle Boys’ School in Edenmore Drive will be running a sportswear, sports equipment and toy fair in the school on Thursday and Friday November 27 and 28 at 7.30pm.
The sale is being organised by the Sports and Recreation Fund Committee who also hope to include a sale of groceries and fancy cakes. The proceeds from the sale will be used to finance sport and recreational activities in the school.
Everybody appreciates the need to provide young people with outlets for their energy and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, providing these outlets becomes increasingly expensive; a football rig would cost a school £150, and no school could survive with one rig; La Salle has fourteen hurling and football teams.
The cost of transporting teams to and from venues is prohibitive. Since La Salle doesn’t have playing fields of its own, and the nearest grounds available to the school do not have changing facilities, then even ‘home’ fixtures involve travel expenses. Consider the cost of transporting boys to Craigavon to train on the ski slope; or to try their feet at water-skiing. The school’s chess teams also clock up considerable mileage during the year. Medals and trophies are very important in encouraging young people to improve their performances; again, more expense.
Of course, as everyone in Belfast, especially West Belfast, knows, while expenses go up, government grants come down. The Sports and Recreation Fund Committee at La Salle is acutely aware of the need to raise as much money as possible and they have committed themselves to the risky business of a fair in the hope that the people of West Belfast will, once again show that they are capable of looking after their own. All the goods on sale will be going at greatly reduced prices. So save yourself some money by spending at La Salle.
Cash will be harder to get
A NUMBER of welfare groups, including the Association of Socialist Lawyers, distributed leaflets outside Social Security offices on Tuesday. They were asking people to make all their supplementary benefit claims before Monday, when new regulations will make benefits more difficult to obtain.
On the 24th of this month major changes will take place in the rules and regulations concerning Supplementary Benefit.
Since so many people in the Andersonstown area depend on this benefit we think it appropriate to highlight some of the more important changes. However this is in no way meant to be a comprehensive guide, for the new legislation is quite complex and lengthy, and for detailed explanation it is best to consult the local DHSS or Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
The first point to note is the new Capital Cut-Off point of £2,000.
Anyone with more than £2,000 will not be entitled to Supplementary Benefit. Groups which spring to mind as the most seriously effected include old people with savings and recently unemployed people with redundancy payments.
Of course capital doesn’t mean just cash savings. Holiday homes, caravans, insurance policies, second cars, will all be taken into account. There is also no point in trying to disposes of resources just to obtain benefit will be assumed to still possess them.
This is the time of year when people on State benefit get their pay rise. But it must be stressed that this year the scale rate increases have not kept pace with inflation and people generally will be worse off. In an area like West Belfast where the prospects of employment are remote, it seems grossly unfair that claimants required to register for work are not entitled to long-term rates. This can mean a difference of £8.85 to a married couple or £5.85 to a single householder every week.