Thursday, July 07, 2005

Fionnuala O'Connor on the struggle for the Loyalist leadership as the politicians and their paramilitary allies gear up for a strike .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

A week ago , a leading Official Unionist thought it necessary to put out a statement of re-assurance - to his own Loyalist community , and to the British public . He was upset by a BBC TV 'Panorama' programme on the Unionist response to the Anglo-Irish Agreement (ie the 1985 Hillsborough Treaty) .

In particular he had clearly been annoyed by the rhetoric of Alan Wright , spokesman for the 'Ulster Clubs' , and by that of one of his own Official Unionist Party members , the outspoken County Derry man , Esmond Thompson : Wright spoke of a people's army and the inevitability of conflict with the RUC , while Thompson spoke of the preparations under way for a last-ditch struggle , the "...specifications.. " already issued for necessary materials .

The UDA's second-in-command , John McMichael , a founder-member of the 'Ulster Clubs' , appeared on screen taking industrious notes in the front row at a meeting addressed by Alan Wright . 'Ulster Clubs' people were'nt altogether happy with the loose talk on the TV programme either - but their reason was entirely to do with security and timing . Esmond Thompson had no right to appear as a spokesman and was a little premature , Wright was too chatty , "...a bit carried away .. " .

But it is honestly , if privately , admitted that Esmond Thompson , in his talk of warlike preparations , spoke nothing but the truth .......


The Democratic Unionist Party would prefer a Civil War to acquiescence in a role for the Dublin Government in the affairs of the North of Ireland after the Anglo-Irish summit .
FINTAN O'TOOLE spoke to DUP activists about the depth of their opposition to the Anglo-Irish deal and their willingness to resort to violence .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , November 1985 .

Gregory Campbell also wants to 'preserve' the purity (sic) of the Protestant people and is against mixed marriages - " I make a distinction between integrated schooling and mixed marriages . I would be quite happy for my child to go to a school where Protestants and Catholics were taught together , but I would not be happy for my child to marry a Roman Catholic . I would be quite happy that the way I am bringing up my children would be sufficient to enable them to hold to their Protestantism no matter what their school environment would be .

But that would be a different step from the child growing into a mature adult and then marrying a person who is not of the faith which she has been brought up to believe is the correct faith . If she chooses to do that , that's her affair , but it would not be with my blessing . I would hope that my children would grow up to be evangelical Protestants with a belief in the bible . That belief in the bible should preclude them from marrying someone who does not have the faith in the bible that they have . Also from a political point of view essentially what you are doing is asking a unionist to marry a nationalist and that is too much to ask . "

That deep-seated evangelical Protestantism is central to the DUP , and the fear of religious persecution is a large part of their fear of a United Ireland . Jim Wells sums up the objections to Catholicism : " We find much of Roman Catholic doctrine repugnant . I find repugnant the fact that any man has the right to forgive sins , that Christ can be recreated on the alter of the Mass , Sunday after Sunday ; that the Virgin Mary is regarded as a deity that can be prayed to , who can forgive sins and heal the sick and all that , that shrines which can supposedly move in Ballinspittle or wherever it is can delude thousands into believing that there are some magical powers .

That is superstition of almost African tribal levels , which we find totally repugnant , and we just do not wish a situation to arise where we would find ourselves dominated by that type of system ....... "


Last month , BRENDAN McFARLANE was ordered by a Dutch court to be extradited back to the North to serve out a sentence of 25 years . He is appealing the decision . His companion GERARD KELLY had his plea accepted that his offences were political . BRENDAN McFARLANE has been on the run since he led thirty-seven men in an escape out of the MAZE PRISON in September 1983 . In an exclusive interview with MAGILL at Bylmerbages Prison in Amsterdam , McFARLANE talks about his life , his youth and upbringing , and his involvement with the ARMED STRUGGLE in the North .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1986 .

At the start of 1975 , the Provisionals' truce came into effect and loyalist assassination gangs re-emerged ; Ardoyne was a prime target for them , and the truce came under considerable strain . In July 1975 , four British soldiers were killed in retaliation for the shooting dead of two Provos , Francis Jordan in Bessbrook and Charles Irvine in Divis Flats . In August 1975 , the Miami Showband was gunned down . By 13th August 1975 , there were sectarian gun battles going on all across Belfast between the Provos and the loyalists . On that day , the Bayardo Bar on the Shankill was attacked in a gun and bomb attack - gunfire raked the front of the bar and a duffle-bag with a bomb was placed by a man who ran from a waiting car . Five people were killed .

Within minutes , Brendan McFarlane was stopped at a road block ; spent bullet cases and the fingerprints of all three later convicted for the attack , including McFarlane , were found in the car . They were each sentenced to twenty-five years minimum (no remission) . In an unsigned statement used at his 'trial' , Brendan McFarlane said he drove the car . While not denying that he was involved in the attack , he disputed " ...the circumstances under which the statement was made .. "

Brendan McFarlane is "...affected personally .. " by the victims of violence ; he does'nt like it but believes it an "...absolute necessity .. " . Asked about whether he was afraid on the streets , he says that he "..never worries about things until they happen .. " because people who do "..cease to function .. " . He does admit , though , that he was depressed throughout the blanket protest and the hunger strikes .

By the time Brendan McFarlane was jailed in May 1976 , the British had removed political status from the prisoners ; while on remand in Crumlin Road Prison , McFarlane was involved in disturbances arising out of that removal .......