THIS week on Over The Wire, James McCarthy is joined by former teacher and People's Democracy Councillor Fergus Ó hÍr to reflect on his party's decision to contest the 1981 council elections - which Sinn Féin was boycotting. He recalls how his shock victory unseated SDLP leader and West Belfast MP Gerry Fitt from his Council position and, following this testing o the waters, cleared the way for Sinn Féin to enter the electoral arena. A decision which ultimately paved the path to peace.
As well as recalling being repeatedly arrested by the RUC for organising public meetings for his constituents in Belfast city centre, the former Meánscoil Feirste principal recalls being invited to address a meeting of the council in Burlington, Vermont, USA, where the mayor was one Bernie Sanders. In a surreal twist, the heated meeting to discuss the plight of the hunger strikers ended up in fisticuffs between Republican and Democration council members!
This Over The Wire podcast is part of a journalistic series marking the 50th anniversary of the Andersonstown News which was founded in November 1972.