23 May 1995
St. Columban’s College, Dalgan Park, Navan, Co. Meath
Marie Smyth (Sociologist and psychotherapist, Magee College and Temple Group Project, L/Derry)
Ann Mc Mullen (Ardoyne Survivors of Trauma Group, Belfast)
Brendan Bradley (Ardoyne Survivors of Trauma Group, Belfast)
Chaired by John Clancy (Meath Peace Group)
John Clancy welcomed everyone to the talk and introduced the speakers: “Our first speaker tonight is Marie Smyth – she undertook one of the first seminal works on the impact of violence, in this case State violence relating to Bloody Sunday. She’s gone on from there to widen her palette, if I may use that word for her expertise – she’s working with the Disabled Police Officer’s Association, and is presently on a two year sabbatical from the University of Ulster, where she is doing study and research into sectarianism, a very important study and a very important area which must be addressed. She will be followed by Ann Mc Mullen and Brendan Bradley, both from North Belfast, where, within a circle of one mile radius from the centre of the Ardoyne, over one third of all the fatalities, murder and terrorism of all kinds took place. I think it’s very important to remember that. Ann Mc Mullen lost two of her family – she lost her brother in 1981 (shot by the IRA), and she lost her father in 1989 (shot by the UVF). Brendan lost three of his family – in 1975 he lost his brother, in 1992 his sister was shot, and in 1994 his nephew was shot. In Brendan’s case as well he lost his family through terrorism from both sides of the political divide in Northern Ireland. So tonight, each will talk about how the violence, the loss has affected them.
“Unfortunately, the WAVE group who had also been invited to speak, were unable to travel tonight.
1. Marie Smyth (Sociologist and psychotherapist, Magee College and Temple Group Project, L/Derry)
“Thank you. I’d like to start by reflecting on something that was mentioned and kind of glossed over in the introduction and that is that there are different sources to the violence that has happened in the North over the last 25 years, and each of these sources has its own set of meanings and set of experiences.
One of the things I have been interested in doing is exploring violence that hasn’t been explored up until now. So my first piece of research was conducted on a kind of violence that had not been research before. No academic, no person had gone and talked to these people before, and those were people who had experience of “State violence“, people who had been killed by the security forces. So the first piece of research I would like to talk about is that, and I’m assuming that the other speakers won’t necessarily be talking about that. The second group that I would like to talk about, very briefly, as my work is at an early stage, is in fact the State forces themselves, because the next piece of work that I have done is actually talking to them and beginning to uncover their experience of the Troubles as well.
So that puts me in a kind of peculiar position, because I talk to all sorts of groups. WAVE who were going to be here this evening – I talk to them, I talk to the Disabled Police Officers, I’ve talked to people who’ve lost family members in Bloody Sunday, who subsequently joined the IRA and served prison sentences, so I’m moving between a whole range of groups in the North, and there’s major problems on language and I want to talk a wee bit about that for a moment.
‘Victim’: “The term ‘victim’, is a problem; its a problem for all sorts of reasons. I recently gave a talk in Stormont, and I used the term ‘victim ‘, in relation to the families of Bloody Sunday, and I talked about the “Victims of Bloody Sunday” – I got a very angry response from some of the disabled police officers who were there; they said “these people were not victims, they are terrorists”. So the word ‘Victim’ is a problem.
‘Survivor’: “I have a problem about using the term ‘Survivor’, because when I interviewed people in the first study that I’ve done, and in the second study that I did, I discovered people who may be alive, but I would argue that they have not survived the violence at all, they are severely affected and continue to be over a long period of time, and the word ‘Survivor’, therefore does not attach itself easily to these people. As a result of which I talk – and I use the term quite deliberately – of ‘People Affected’ – not victims, not survivors but ‘People Affected By’, and that’s the term that I’ve learned to use and it’s the only term that I can actually use with all the different groups that I’m working with, and I’m happy with that…..
‘Violence’: “So what do you call the violence?. The first term I used was Political Violence, and you can imagine this is the talk I was giving in Stormont, and we had different disabled police officers this time saying, “excuse me, this isn’t political violence, these people are terrorists – these are criminals, there’s no such thing as political violence in the North of Ireland, they’re all criminals etc.” So you can’t use that term – that’s out.
‘Murder’ is a term that is used by all groups but other people commit murder, they do not commit murder, so that’s a problem as well. You can’t use that. The “war” is a term that tends to be used more or less within Republican circles, it’s not used by Loyalists. So I’ve ended up using euphemism, which I’m not terribly happy about, but it’s the only term that I can find that everybody shares, that is “The Troubles“. So I talk about “People who are affected by the Troubles“.
For all kinds of reasons which I don’t need to go into now I don’t use the word ‘Psychological’, because that carries a whole other weight of meaning to it as well. If you say to people “You’re psychologically affected”, there’s a kind of implication that these people are a bit ‘loopy’. And I argue very strongly that the people I’m talking to, even though they have symptoms that you would associate with mental illness, are in fact perfectly normal people having perfectly normal reactions to very abnormal circumstances. So that’s really why I am refusing the term ‘psychological’, and I prefer to use the term ’emotional’- “The Emotional Effects of the Troubles“.
The issue that I referred to earlier, about the term ‘victim‘, is really an issue about the legitimacy of people’s suffering. In order to be a victim, in order to qualify as a victim, this is terrible to say this, but I think it’s very important that you understand this, in order to qualify as a victim, you must be innocent; and there are huge problems about defining people’s innocence within a very conflicted society, where people are at loggerheads with each other and they have competing political interests.
Principles: “…. You’ve probably gathered from the kind of weird boundary crossing that I’m doing, that basically I work on two principles:
1) The first principle is humanitarianism – I don’t care where the person is from or what political views they have, or whatever, my job professionally as a psychotherapist, is to treat human suffering where I find it, and I have a kind of ethical commitment to doing that. So it doesn’t actually matter whether I’m dealing with a police officer – I’m from the Catholic community, that was a huge challenge for me to do that, because in my past I personally sued the RUC for wrongful arrest, so you can imagine the piece of work I had to do in the morning before I went to do that. I’ve worked with Loyalists – again I’ve had my life threatened by the UVF, that was a difficult thing for me to do, but nevertheless I think that it’s really important that we’re dealing with humanitarian issues here.
2) The second is the principle of inclusion – that anyone that’s been affected, and I don’t care whether they’ve been a member of a paramilitary organisation or not, whether they’ve been a member of the security forces or not, whether they’ve used violence or not … everybody must be included in the framework. There’s no grounds for putting anyone out or saying they don’t qualify, they’re not legitimate; human suffering is legitimate and that’s basically what my work is based on. … That’s the preaching over! Now down to business.
“The first theme I’d like to talk about is “The Emotional Effects of the Violence in the Troubles“, and I’d like to just spend a wee bit of time on the findings of the first study that I did, which were the bereaved families of Bloody Sunday – the people who were actually in that little group – the living group of the people who were killed. Then I’d like to just introduce you to some of the findings from the other piece of research and then I was going to make some conclusions. Somebody has asked me if I would talk a little bit about the proposal that I put to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, so I’ll finish by doing that.
I. Emotional Effects of the Violence – Bloody Sunday families:
Framework: “The first thing I’ll say, just to be a wee bit technical, is the kind of framework that normally this kind of research comes into. PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a term that’s used in psychiatry, to diagnose people who have a deep-seated and ongoing reaction to trauma. So its post-traumatic and its a disorder of some kind, where the symptoms survive longer than you normally expect them to do after a trauma e.g. if I’m in a road accident you would expect me to be a bit shook up for a period of time afterwards, but after a period of time you’d expect the symptoms to go away. And what we’re dealing with here is something more over and above that where the symptoms last for a long period of time or indeed one of the things which I find is where the people had no symptoms at all immediately afterwards, for maybe a period of up to ten years, and this is the thing that really is quite bothering; that after ten years for example somebody loses their job, and suddenly they have all the symptoms associated with their trauma. So that’s the framework; that’s the definition there.
Three groups of symptoms that we’ll talk about:
1. Intrusion – e.g. flashbacks. Something triggers the person into being back in that experience, it’s not like remembering it, it’s actually re-experiencing it, you see, you maybe even smell the smells that you smelled at the time of the trauma, and you actually go back into the experiences, it’s not like memory at all, it’s actually re-experiencing of some kind.
Intrusive thoughts. Most of us will normally have some kind of experience of intrusive thoughts e.g. if you have been bereaved, even if it’s not a traumatic bereavement, quite often for a period of time after, the person will come into your mind or you will remember something about the person, even though you are trying to concentrate on something else. Now for people who are traumatised by violence of the Troubles, these thoughts come into their minds all the time, uninvited, and they can’t get them out – some of the people anyway.
Dreams and nightmares: people will have dreams associated with the trauma; they will have nightmares to the point where they couldn’t sleep in bed with their partner anymore, because the nightmare would wake them up and they’re thrashing about in the bed, and so on. They would typically have the same nightmare over and over again. That’s the kind of symptoms we talk about when we talk about intrusions.
2. Hyperarousal: “you’re basically talking about your expectation of danger, so a typical thing if you’re in the North of Ireland and you do that – [loud bang on table] – the whole room goes OOH! That’s a very simple example of it, but literally you can see it in the general population. That is an exaggerated startled response and your autonomic nervous system, which is your nervous system that keeps you moving without you even thinking about it, is tuned up – it’s like a car engine that’s running too rich, if anybody here knows about these things. Your autonomic nervous system is very excited all the time, and that leads to a whole range of symptoms, but your expectation of danger, particularly, is very tuned up So for example, disabled police officers that I talk to will not sit where you’re sitting, they have to be near the door, they have to be near an exit. People who were on Bloody Sunday marches will not go into crowded streets, they need to be near where they can get away from the crowd, because of this kind of symptom.
3. Constriction; “ these are emotional symptoms and they’ve got to do with our emotional responses. What actually happens there is that people shut down their emotions, they don’t feel so they lose interest in things they were interested in beforehand, they will lose interest in their family, they’ll withdraw themselves emotionally from relationships, and so on and so forth; there’s a whole range of these symptoms we can talk about. They can become apathetic – they’ll say they don’t care and in this particular group of symptoms, in this particular response people will also induce this state in themselves by the use of drugs and alcohol, so if they can’t actually induce it through their own emotional responses they will achieve it through the use of drugs and alcohol as a kind of anaesthetic to the pain that they’re experiencing.
Method of research:
“I believe one of the things that’s dreadful about doing research is that we research a people; we go out and we ask them questions about themselves and we take them away and we make sense of them in a room, usually in an ivory tower of some kind, and then we publish it somewhere and the person that you’ve interviewed has no sense of what you’ve said about them; and secondly you cannot take part of the picture sometimes and you may not get it right. Academics are notorious for not getting it right, in my opinion anyway. The main reason that I was determined not to do that was because in many ways, that’s what has been happening to people in the North of Ireland, particularly people who have been bereaved. Bloody Sunday families and other people have had paths beaten to their door by the media – they have been, I would argue, quite exploited by that experience, where their emotions have been portrayed on television and all the rest of it, and really they have no control over that whatsoever. I would argue, as a psychotherapist that that actually re-traumatises people, it doesn’t help at all.
So when I was going to do the research I was determined I was going to try not to do that, so I worked with a group of families and they collaborated with me in the research – the people who did the tape transcriptions were family members; the people who arranged the interviews were family members. I transcribed each interview and gave it back to the person I had interviewed so that they could read what they said, correct it and give it back to me and when I finished the research and put my findings together, the first group of people that I presented it to were a group of the families and they criticised it and offered me suggestions and so on. So basically that’s also an important point, because I think very often in the past it hasn’t been done that way – someone has come out with a questionnaire and they’ve asked you questions and they’ve ticked it off and then put it in a computer somewhere and then people have no access to that. I think people really have had enough of that in the North, and indeed elsewhere.
I interviewed 15 people, the interviews ranged between an hour and a half to, in one case, three and a half hours. With the exception of one person, all of the fifteen people interviewed told me that I was the first person to ever ask them how the felt about Bloody Sunday; they meant that I was the first person to ask them about their emotional reaction as opposed to how they were related to the person that was killed, what did they think about the Widgery Tribunal, what did they think about the British Government and nobody had actually sat with them and explored their emotional reality and their emotional responses, which I find a totally horrifying revelation and it really made me distressed personally. The second remark I’m going to make is that it was the most distressing piece of research I’ve ever done. Bloody Sunday happened 23 years ago now, and I went into houses and really I was opening up things that really were as fractious now as the day they happened. That was an extremely taxing experience for me as researcher; normally I am an old hand – I can do 4 or 5 interviews in a day. But then I could only do two interviews in a day- one in the morning, a break at lunch time for a cry, and another again in the afternoon. So it’s very demanding and very difficult research to do.
Themes that came out of the interviews:
1) Justice: “The first theme that came up again and again and again was the need for justice. I now know from other research that I’ve done that that’s something that happens to other groups as well. For example, the disabled police officers that I talk to will say “we haven’t been fairly treated”, and they will either equate that with the Police Federation or the Government or with the compensation they got- they feel unjustly treated. And obviously the Bloody Sunday families feel unjustly treated and almost every single person I talked to, and certainly in the questionnaires that we distributed, it came up again and again – the need for acknowledgement that these people were killed unjustly. People couldn’t put it away, they couldn’t let go of it, and say “right, it’s over and done with”. Because in their mind it’s not over and done with and in fact some of the families are pursuing a case at the European Court even as we speak. So that was something that was keeping it going, keeping it fresh.
2) Grief: “Allied to that was the whole issue of grief, and that being reactivated or re-stimulated by for example seeing coverage – there’s constantly documentaries in Northern Ireland, which use footage from Bloody Sunday. So if you are a family member, you can turn on the TV, thinking that you are going to watch something and suddenly, there it is, back in front of you again. Bloody Sunday is public property, so you never know when you are going to come back into it again, and again it’s your family member that’s been lost, you’re restimulated and the grief just comes back every time this happens.
It also happens for people who’ve witnessed other kinds of violence in the Troubles. For example, a woman told me, if you remember there was a helicopter going from Northern Ireland to Scotland, that crashed and there were a number of people killed. If you remember the TV coverage – there was a row of coffins at one point, and for one moment that row of coffins took her straight back into Bloody Sunday, because again, on Bloody Sunday there was a row of coffins. So there’s all sorts of visual things that trigger people and take them back into this experience.
3) Lost trust: “The third theme that came up in the interviews was the theme of lost trust. That idea – that up until the trauma happened, you might have known that the world was a kind of unsafe place in patches, that there were things that were risky and other things that were less risky – but for the people that I talked to, what actually happened at the point when they were traumatised on Bloody Sunday, was that they lost trust completely; the world was not a safe place any more; the world was universally dangerous, and it was risky to do all sorts of things that, before the trauma, appeared to be quite safe. And there were all sorts of issues about trusting people that previously they had trusted.
4. Feelings of vulnerability: “again that is something that came up in all of the interviews, the feeling that it could happen again. And particularly allied to this here, the first one, the need for justice, the idea that this kind of thing could happen, that it hadn’t been addressed, and therefore this could happen to any of us at any time. Indeed when I looked at what these families told their children, one of the things that children were told all the time was “you better be in by seven o’ clock or eight o’ clock”, or whatever. “Remember what happened to your Uncle Mickie” or “remember what happened to your father” or “remember …” and it was constantly there as a kind of threat out there, and a feeling of vulnerability as a result. It happened once so it can happen again.
5) Intrusions: “I have already mentioned the whole issue of intrusions; the whole idea that it comes back into the arena of the family; that it’s discussed without it being invited, that its not been decided that we’re going to talk about it, but it’s there, uninvited all the time.
So these are the kind of themes that we found.
Conclusions from Bloody Sunday research:
1) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder doesn’t make any sense in Northern Ireland at all. We weren’t dealing with post anything, we were dealing with something that was ongoing. …People were being re-traumatised by new episodes of violence. Now I don’t know about post-ceasefire, because I haven’t actually done the research since the ceasefire. But basically the kind of traditional psychiatric framework for looking at this, I’m throwing it out the window, I’m not happy with it.”
2) Abuse of trust: “The second thing is a really shocking thing to say, and it was something I was really nervous about saying to the families of the Bloody Sunday victims, because it was in their research that I found it. There’s a lot of concern about the emotional aftermath of childhood sexual abuse, but I was seeing, in the interviews that I was doing with people who were traumatised by Bloody Sunday, virtually identical symptoms to what one would expect to find in somebody who was traumatised by childhood sexual abuse- the same profile of symptoms and all the rest of it. The parallels it seems to me are that the person who is in the position of great trust, and who has great power over you, abuses that trust in a very fundamental way. In the case of childhood sexual abuse that’s a parent, in the case of Bloody Sunday, it was the State, That there was no recourse, there was no higher authority that you could go to. As a child there’s no higher authority than your parent, and as a citizen there’s no higher authority than the State. So what I was seeing was very much like the kind of psychological and emotional effects of childhood sexual abuse.
3. Gender differences: “I found big differences between men and women. I found men much more likely to self-medicate on alcohol, I found women much more likely to use what’s termed “street valium”. I found women much more likely to become depressed – I found two women who had been hospitalised for mental illness, and in my opinion, though I’m not allowed to diagnose in this country (unlike the United States), these two women were misdiagnosed. They were actually suffering from the effects of Bloody Sunday, but they were diagnosed in some other kind of way. One man has been diagnosed as a “paranoid schizophrenic” and he is not. Why he is diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic is that he gets extremely drunk, and when he gets extremely drunk he thinks everybody is a paratrooper. So it seems to me quite clear, without knowing that that man had lost a son on Bloody Sunday, you might think that he was paranoid, but in fact, when you realise that he had lost his son on Bloody Sunday, you realise that something else is going on here. And so men and women tend to deal with it very differently.
Also, men in the families that I interviewed were much more likely to be treated differently – the families policed the boys very carefully, they watched them when they went out at night, they watched till they came in again, the fear was that they would get involved. That didn’t happen to the girls – the girls were considered to be safer on the streets and all the rest of it. There’s a whole difference between how men and women are affected and how boys and girls were affected. Girls very often are expected to take over parental roles – the parents of those who were killed were much worse off emotionally than siblings. So if your brother or sister was killed you had a much better chance of surviving emotionally than if it was your son or daughter. If you think about it, the role of the parent is to protect the child, so if the child is killed, that’s a huge huge trauma, whereas if it’s your brother or sister somehow you’ve still got a parent up there, so there’s all sorts of things that we could talk about all night, but we won’t.
4. Support and services: “The last thing I want to talk about is the lack of support and services to these families. Again we’re talking 23 years ago, and the only people that were available to provide support to these families were the GP’s, and what GP’s were doing, by and large, was doling out tranquillisers, and that was all. Also if you remember that this happened in Derry, where very often the GP was a member of the local community, and indeed may have been on the march himself or herself, that therefore there’s a whole community trauma that we’re not even talking about.
General conclusions from the research:
1) Numbers of people affected: “If you take it that there were 14 families involved who had lost somebody on Bloody Sunday, and if you multiply that by the average family size which is fairly large in the community concerned, you’re probably talking about roughly 200 people. And of the people we interviewed, we found that 50% of them had symptoms which were disabling or prevented them from going about what could be termed normal lives. So if you multiply Bloody Sunday by the number of incidents that there are in Northern Ireland, and you think about the hundreds of people who are affected by each incident, what I’m saying is that the emotional effects in the general population in Northern Ireland, I would estimate to be huge. I think there are huge numbers of people out there who are emotionally affected by all sorts of incidents throughout the troubles.
2). Untreated symptoms don’t necessarily go away. There’s this happy notion, which I think has been invented by civil servants and maybe academics as well, that you know you get over things – that something happens a year ago or two or three years ago, and three years down the line you’ve kind of put it away and you’re getting on with the rest of your life. That is not to be found at all.
“This research was done a year ago, it’s 23 years since Bloody Sunday. Almost 50% of the people we saw, after 23 years (22 years we looked at them, but I’m still in touch with them, so I know that they haven’t made miraculous recoveries as the result of my interviews or anything), almost 50% of them had trauma related symptoms 22 years later. And the untreated symptoms didn’t necessarily go away – people were still having panic attacks, they were still having difficulty going out of doors, they still panicked when they saw RUC patrols or foot patrols or people on the streets or whatever, and the other thing I mentioned earlier on was that just because people seemed to cope very well at the time, didn’t mean that they wouldn’t ever suffer from symptoms.
One person that I spoke to – he was actually one of the people that was shot on Bloody Sunday and survived, and I subsequently talked to him, and he was fine for I think it was 10 or 12 years, and he was made redundant after 10 or 12 years. Up until that point he had denied who he was, he didn’t disclose to people that he had been shot on Bloody Sunday at all. When he was made redundant he somehow lost something that was very important to him and which held him together, and he went into full, classical post traumatic stress disorder – he couldn’t go out of the house, he was having nightmares, night sweats, etc.etc, and he is the only person out of all those I talked to who was actually diagnosed psychiatrically as having post traumatic stress disorder. But it happened 10 or 12 years after the trauma – not at the time at all. So again I think that has implications for the long-term care of people who have been exposed to some of the traumas that have gone on. I said access to services is non-existent.
4. Need for non-medical support: “The other thing was that there was a fear on behalf of the people involved to look for help; because what they were scared of was that if they went to their doctor, the doctor would send them to a psychiatrist, and that the psychiatrist would tell them that they were crazy. So one of the conclusions I’ve reached is that it is actually very important to have non-medical self-help kind of support available to people; that actually there is no reason why a doctor or psychiatrist has to provide the type of help that people may require, but it’s very important to locate that outside of a kind of labelling system for people and that it’s normalised in some way.
The kind of things we saw were panic disorders – i.e. people would have panic attacks all the time without warning, so they were scared to go out shopping in case they would have a panic attack in the shop. One woman in particular, who actually did the transcription for the research, was very severely disabled by panic attacks – if I wanted to take her to a meeting, I’d have to call for her and take her in the car even if it was only in the next street; she’s very very scared about being out of doors. And sleep disturbance was virtually universal. It was very funny when I was presenting the research, because the other thing was that people didn’t talk to each other about this. So we’ve got this campaigning group of people working on the European Court case, and they don’t talk to each other about how they sleep at night; so I’m standing in front of them saying “well actually 50% of you have got sleep disturbance, and so they start looking at one another and saying “have you got sleep disturbance?”. There’s a kind of isolation – people were stuck with these issues and not necessarily talking to each other about how they were feeling about what was happening to them.
Hyper-alertness, I won’t bang the table again – you know what that is – and Somatic Disorders. In one family that I talked to, there were I think 10 children, one of whom had been killed on Bloody Sunday, and of the remaining nine, seven of them had duodenal ulcers. What I’m suggesting is that there may well be, now it’s not my field, but there may well be evidence that in the case of stress related things like ulcers, heart disease and so on, we may need to look at them in terms of the effects of trauma.
II. Disabled Police Officers.
“The second piece of research actually happened as a result of the Forum, believe it or not. There is some cynicism in the North about the effectiveness of the Forum, but this is an example of how it works. I went to the Forum and I talked about the research that I’d done, and one of the officers at the Forum said that he was very keen to involve people from the Protestant Community and also people from the Security Forces in the North, so I went back and he had given me the ‘phone number of the Disabled Police Officers Association, so I rang them up and went to talk to them. As a result of that I’ve done several interviews with them and I’ll be working with them trying to establish their experience which is very different to other groups and it’s certainly a huge insight to me, because I knew very little about it before.
The first thing that struck me was the isolation. If you can imagine being a member of the RUC in the North for the last twenty odd years and having to check under your car every day; not being able to trust people that you meet in the course of your life. That you go in to buy a newspaper, but you don’t know who’s there, who’s tracking you etc.. And there’s a kind of fantasy in the Catholic community that police officers are integrated into the Protestant community. From work elsewhere I know that that is not the case – there’s very much a little inner circle of people who are in the RUC who speak to each other, who trust each other, but almost anybody else outside of that experience is excluded. So it’s a very isolated and segregated community of it’s own.
That raises issues of identity, I call it Identity Management. I’ll tell you a story to illustrate it – one man that I interviewed has two bullets lodged at the base of his spine, and he’s on morphine continually. I was interviewing him and I said to him “well, how do you explain this when you go out for a drink or whatever?”, and he said ” well it’s very interesting, I used to go into the pub and people would say “What happened your leg?” (it looks as if it’s a bad leg, but actually it’s his spine), and I used to say I had polio”, and then I got caught out”. People would say to him “my sister has polio and there’s this new drug, Have you heard of it, you should go to your GP and get it”, and he would be drawn into conversations where he would be caught out basically, where it would be discovered that he didn’t have polio at all. So now he says to people, “Look mate, many years ago I got a skin full of drink, got into my car, I crashed the car, I did this injury to myself, I’m totally ashamed of it, I don’t want to talk about it, Okay”. So the man is unable to explain what actually happened to him in terms of disclosing who he is to people in the broader community. You can imagine the difficulty that sets up for the person emotionally, in terms of forming relationships and maintaining relationships, outside of that – all related to security issues and fear and all the rest of it. Huge anger at the authorities and the government, anger at the government particularly, about services. The perspective within the DPOA (Disabled Police Officers Association) would be: “we acquired these injuries through the serving of our country, look at the way we’re treated now, we’re shunted to one side and all the rest of it.”
There’s also associated a sense of injustice about compensation, about support, about access to disability benefits and all the rest of it. There’s huge anger at the attackers, and in some instances, that is generalised out into the Catholic community, as a whole, and I think that’s a feature of many of the groups that I talked to. There’s also a lack of services, and part of that is actually an awareness, as well, because one of the things that I discovered with this group is that they were actually asked, way back, if they wanted counselling, and the response that they made was, “what’s that?” So they actually didn’t know what to ask for, and therefore weren’t provided with it. They were very suspicious of me when I first went there, and they said ” are you a psychologist?”, and I said, “well sort of -yeah”, and they said “oh the last psychologist we met we didn’t like – they interviewed us for 15 minutes and told us we were all fine and sent us away”. They feel very strongly that they deserve a special continuing support, and they feel a loss of status, role and career….
“Generally within the RUC, it is the case that, if you declare yourself to be under stress, which you might well do if you imagine the kind of stress that people have lived in, you automatically lose any prospect of promotion. So there’s a huge disincentive for people to actually say “I’m under stress “. They must keep it to themselves and cope with it as best they can.
“Isolation from former colleagues is the other thing. If you can imagine the disabled police officer with the two bullets in his spine – to his colleagues he represents something, which is basically “this could happen to me next”. So quite often you’d find that able-bodied police officers have stepped back from disabled police officers, and they’re not actually integrated, they won’t visit them, they’re embarrassed, it’s too difficult, they’re fearful and so on and so forth. So there’s quite a lot of isolation from former colleagues within the ranks of the RUC. There’s also isolation from civilian organisations that are dealing with disability issues, for all sorts of reasons, security and all the rest of it. And there’s a lack of attention completely to the emotional needs of disabled police officers, including their own attention.
I mean they’ll talk to you quite happily about ramps and wheelchairs and pain-management and all the rest of it, but they are really tentative around issues of their own emotions and how they feel, beyond anger – they can be very angry quite easily – but beyond that there really isn’t any access to other kinds of feelings.
I locate that very clearly to the general attitude to stress within the RUC, very stoical – you must keep a stiff upper lip and get on with it, and it’s not a culture in which it’s okay to be stressed out, or to suffer from stress, and therefore when people are disabled there’s no repertoire of behaviour to deal with that at all
“I’ll just tell you the story of the proposal – basically what happened was I got a bee in my bonnet abut it after doing the first piece of research, and the bee in my bonnet was that although there were some existing services, really the group of people I’d talked to, the Bloody Sunday families that I had talked to, had been largely left without any kind of services at all, and I sit on the committee in Stormont, which is extremely boring, and they don’t do very much; so I thought this is an opportunity to kill two birds with the one stone – I can make the meetings more interesting and I might actually do something useful as well. So I took the research findings to this committee in Stormont, and said to the senior civil servants there, we need to do something in terms of delivery of services to people affected by the troubles. I was expecting to be thrown out but they listened very carefully and then they said “what do you think we should do?”, which I thought was quite a remarkable kind of question, but anyway, they didn’t seem to have any ideas of their own, so I went away off and told them what I thought they should do, and this is what I think they should do:
Independent Body: “The first thing which needs to be done is to establish an independent body responsible for the provision of support services to those affected. I said this earlier – it’s not political violence anymore, it’s the troubles.
I feel very strongly that there needs to be some kind of independent body. Independent from the State, because people who have been affected by State violence have a difficulty in using it. Independent from professional people like psychiatrists, because that puts a label on people that’s not useful, and it needs to be in the hands of people themselves, that they need to have a lot of control and access to it.
I don’t have any vested interest in this, I’m really putting the suggestion forward as a way of stimulating debate about what needs to happen, and I did that at the Forum, and I also lobbied at Europe, and in the Peace Dividend that was announced about a month ago there is an inclusion of monies to go to services to those affected by the troubles, and also in terms of pay management for those physically disabled by the troubles. There has been a kind of space created now for the creation of some kind of initiatives and that those initiatives are bottom-up, i.e.. they are created and controlled by the people themselves as opposed to people like me. So that’s basically it.”
2. Ann Mc Mullen (Ardoyne Survivors of Trauma Group):
“I haven’t been to university. I’m a mother, I’m a housewife, I’m a grandmother, I’ve four children, three grandchildren. My first recollection going back to the beginning of the troubles, is 1971. That was the worst part of it , when Paddy [ -] was shot dead in front of me, in our front garden. He was an IRA Volunteer, and he was out doing his bit for the people of Ardoyne, that’s what I thought then, and still do to a certain extent. We were evacuated as a family, I was the head of that family. Mammy and daddy and the older ones stayed and I was evacuated to Navan, down to this area. Going from that then through to 1981, was when my brother Anthony was shot dead by the IRA. He was 22 years old and married with three children. They classed him as an informer, which they still have no proof. About 6 to 8 weeks later, after Anthony was killed, what I believe was the real informer, was brought to the fore. During that time I suffered what I’ve called a nervous breakdown. I attended a psychiatrist twice a week. I got shock treatment twice a week. I was on all sorts of tranquillisers, and so was my mother at that stage. I am going through this in a very quick way, to get it out of the road or space without boring you to death. The next was 1989, when my father was shot dead. He was shot dead sitting saying the rosary with my Mummy, it was a Sunday night. It was the 19th of March and he had just made her a cup of tea. And after they had finished the tea they went out into the kitchen and were saying the rosary, when the UVF burst in and they shot him dead. He was shot nine times. Again the family sort of fell to pieces during the wake . There was a lot of good people came to that wake in the line of support and support for the family. I don’t think it was really necessary at that stage – it was really afterwards, when the funeral was over, for weeks after that, maybe four to six weeks after that, we could have been doing with some sort of help.
“My own feelings for the people that shot Anthony, which were the IRA, and the UVF that shot my daddy, are – I just feel so sorry for them. I’ve no hatred for them. I actually tried to meet the person that shot my daddy ….. He was sentenced to four years for his part in my daddy’s death. There was nobody else convicted. There was nobody ever got for my brother’s death, although we know who these people are, we’re in a sort of daily contact as you could say with Anthony’s killers.
“That’s it basically. That’s just it. That’s my story of how the troubles, as this lady calls them has affected me as a mother . And I hope this peace that we have, it’s very fragile peace, but I hope whatever it is that’s up there in the north, will continue. And people down here and England and America and everywhere else that’s involved within this peace process, to really work at it for the likes of me and my children that are coming up and the grandchildren, and not let it go back to what we have been living in for the past twenty-five years, which is mainly behind steel bars.
“I took my steel bars down when the cease-fire came about, and they’ve gone back up again from reading the “Sunday World ” front page, when the UDA or is it the Red Hand Commandos, some Protestant organisation are stockpiling. We wonder what they’re stockpiling for. So this is something else that we’re hoping doesn’t come about. If they want to stockpile for World War 3, let them go ahead, but leave Ardoyne alone, the rest of Northern Ireland- the ordinary people don’t want to be involved in it. That’s it.”
3. Brendan Bradley (Ardoyne Survivors of Trauma Group)
“ I’m from Ardoyne as well , from a large family, there was 15 of us, including my mother and father – 13 children. I can’t ever remember most of the family ever being employed, anytime they wanted to get employment they had to go, they had to move out of Ardoyne ….. there was never employment for them in Belfast. But a bit like Anne, I’ll talk about myself a wee bit first. I was the second youngest of my family – nine boys, the rest were girls – four girls. We were brought up by a mother and father, of course. Both of them were blind, registered blind people. The mother was very badly severely handicapped with blindness, the father had one eye – they met each other in the workshop for the blind on Ladbrooke or Ladybrooke, whatever it’s called. My mother was a Protestant, my father was a Catholic. I suppose they didn’t see eye to eye, it could be said! Both of them got married – they lived on the New Lodge Road, it’s an all-Catholic, ghetto-like area, in North Belfast. They moved up to the Ardoyne just before the Blitz. During the Blitz -1940-’45 World War 2 thing, they moved out of the house that they were in, into our house, bringing us right up 1969, when all the family had been born. The youngest brother of mine, Francis, and myself and a couple of other kids, were actually moved out……but we were moved out in ’69, but it wasn’t in fact until we’d seen what had actually happened – a place called Butler St., Hooker St., Herbert St., had been attacked by the B Specials, who led in Loyalist mobs who burned down the houses – that was my first experience. And then the shooting in the house of the B Specials, from a gun turret on top of an armoured personnel carrier and killing Lynch. That was my first experience of death but I was to learn more about death as the years went on. Ardoyne is a community of 6600 people.
“Out of them 6600 people over the last 25 years, there has been 180 people, friends, relatives and neighbours, killed. It affected me. I think the only way I can describe it is, I heard a lady talk about a mental block you put up . It affected me – I mean every street corner tells a story – you have to walk by it, and you remember the person that died there. It affected me as if I was an ambulance man or a fire brigade man – death is a thing that comes natural, this is a thing that you see all the time. I mean people with no heads and stuff like that, it just came normal.
“1975 came along – what happened then? Well there was a lot of police activity in our area, a lot of people were being pulled in for one reason or another. I was involved in what is termed “cross-community” work from 1973 to 1975. This cross-community work was sort of on the peace line; it was a wee hut where everybody , sort of “weighed in” – Protestants and Catholics. The police took great notice, great attention to what I was doing, not because of cross-community work, but because I knew everybody who lived in the wee village, within the Ardoyne. I knew everyone and everyone knew me – a big family, a big extended family. So what they were interested in me was – would I work for them? Would I come out and work as a spy on my neighbours, to find out who was up to no good? And when I refused this, they kept on harassing – every week you were being arrested, every week, for one thing or another. They used to do you for ‘ impeding a policeman in his duty’, “riotous behaviour”, “throwing petrol bombs at the police”.
“I remember being arrested at the same time that Anthony was killed, and they were trying to get me to work for them at the same time, and when I refused they brought up this charge – whatever – I think it was robbery they called it.
“Whilst being in prison, my brother actually died – he was killed in an explosion which was planted by the Protestant Action Force in a garage outside of Ardoyne, in the middle of town actually, in Belfast city centre. And what happened was – I wasn’t there, I’m only relaying what I heard happened – the brother went to see a picture in the picture-house, it was in town. By the way in Ardoyne there’s no facilities at all – there’s no picture-houses, no playgrounds, no nothing. The Belfast City Council will sit and tell you the most deserving place in North Belfast would be Ardoyne, but we don’t want to spend any money on it. Last year in [?] an area that joins our area, which again is a nationalist area, they spent £5 to fix a lock, that was the whole expenditure award – £5 from the City Council. But lucky enough we have other things set up there, I’ll explain them to you later.
“When the brother died, I was in gaol – I was in Long Kesh in the ‘huts’. I was on remand. And what happened was about 8 or 9 o clock in the evening, the doors opened and in come the prison wardens and the guy who was in charge, the warden or whatever you call him. And he comes up and he said, ” Have you a brother outside?”. I said, “I’ve got a load of brothers outside “. And he said “Have you one called Francis?”. I said ” I have “. He said ” Well he’s dead”. And he just walked away. This was this man’s compassion to me, telling me that my brother was dead.
“Francis was the youngest one of the whole family, and if he heard a sound like the lady made [bang], he would run, he would run. I mean he didn’t build up any immunity to the sound, he wouldn’t duck, he would just run, that’s about he way he was. And when he told me I couldn’t believe that he’d get caught up in such a thing, until afterwards I realised what had happened. He went to get a spare tyre that he had left in the garage, to be fixed, and he went back to the garage and his petrol gauge wasn’t working in the car. He was 17. And he asked the gent that was working behind the counter, ” Have you any spare petrol cans? ” Your man said ” there’s a load of them over there in that corner – go way over and get one”. So he went over and lifted a petrol can that was booby- trapped. A petrol can in all these petrol cans, that blew him, that blew his stomach and his hand and leg away. I mean it could have been anybody, but it happened to little Francie – fate I suppose. But the Protestant Action Force says that they were trying to kill somebody in the garage ……
“The next death happened in 1992 in the middle of a festival, the Ardoyne Fleadh Cheoil, in August, just after the festival actually …..
“It was the 21st August – a sister of mine had come over from England to give my other sister a respite from looking after the mother who was senile at the time. She was on her way home – it was her last day. She was actually leaving at 7 o’clock that night. She was walking from my home to another sister’s home, and somebody decided that they wanted to fire at the soldiers or the police who were coming down the road. And they fired three shots. And they killed my sister and they wounded another civilian – not very successful in their shooting at the people who they were trying to kill. But the end result was there was somebody who died, and it happened to be my sister. I couldn’t really say that I really grieved for my sister.
“When I went over to see, my brother was hanging over her; and she was face down on the ground, like a couple of yards from where I live. I said to him “Who is it?” And he says to me ” It’s Isobel “. And Isobel was so like trying to get up, to sort of look round her, but Isobel was beat out, I mean Isobel was going to die – I knew that. I just shook my head and says “I feel so helpless, I mean I can’t do nothing for Isobel, I mean Isobel’s gone or she’s going”.
“When I looked round at all the stunned people who were aghast that this here had happened – you know it happened in a busy street where there were loads of people going about their business to a shopping complex. I looked at them all in amazement – they were all standing there, you know the expression, or maybe you don’t know the expression of people standing aghast at what happened. And then as being part of a small community group I looked at Isobel and I looked at the people and I says ” I can do nothing for Isobel but I will try to do something for the rest of these people, through community work. What I’ll try to do is make them aware of how they are living and what way they are living in the area. So I got involved more – I buried my head deeper in the community work.
“On a workshop trip out – we do work in every street, we don’t have a club or a hall, or anything like that, we do work out on the street, because in a recent report it says that 75% of all children in North and West Belfast do not use youth facilities. There’s three thousand youths live in Ardoyne, so 75% of them is running about the street and nobody looking after them – nobody trying to help them. So what we did was we had this programme – we go out into the streets – we load the bus up with parents and children and we take them wherever they want to go. I mean if we have to bus them to a park ‘cos there’s no playing facilities, or an indoor play area or the zoo or wherever they want to go. And on one of these trips to a place called ‘Jungle Jim’s’, an indoor play area, I was sitting with the children, just last May (1994), and the guy who was driving the bus came over and he says , “I’ve a bit of bad news for you” . I says ” What is it ?” He says ” Big Martin was shot “. I says “was he shot in the bookies, was he shot in the bookmakers?”, ‘cos that here I expected him to be. But he says “No, he was shot in Patricia’s house”. I had to go away and find out what had happened. Well Patricia’s house was the house that my other sister was going to when she was shot, and she was going with Patricia’s daughter who was 11, called Joeline, and Joeline was standing beside Martin when he got shot. She was beside my sister when she got shot, at 11, and now she was standing beside my nephew when he got shot. She’s 12, 13 now.
“And having all these deaths in our area, 180, we see people again, I mean nobody has a monopoly on grief. Grief attacks all of us one way or another”.
“But Martin’s death really got to me, ‘cos Martin was a big simple fella, who had no animosity against anybody. It was actually the first thing he would have done when he came into my house or into anybody’s house, if there was a small child, he would have lifted it and put it on his shoulders and walked about. He was a big fella, but he wasn’t very brainy, he wasn’t very bright.
“So when these people came in to kill Martin, he was standing with a child on his shoulders, and my sister cooking chips, and the niece standing beside the sister. And this guy came in and he says “hi boy” and shot him four times in the head. We had to go in and identify Martin on the kitchen floor to the police. They says they wanted to get it over and done with – they didn’t want us to go to all the bother of getting a way out to the mortuary, so they let us do it there, which when we went in it was a bit of a mess.
Who really cares about us? “So as I’m saying, all these things – when Martin was being buried, that’s when it hit home to me “who really cares about us, really?” I mean the only people that care about us is us. And the only people that’s going to help us is us. Everybody else can talk about us, but they don’t talk to us.
Peace Dividend: “I went to the same things that the lady went to for the European money, for peace. In Balmoral when we had John Hume, Jim Nicholson and Ian Paisley, the three MEP’s for Northern Ireland – and there was people there from banks, that were looking for this money – saying “could we have this money, because we could make it much easier for the people to borrow from us”. There were people there with big farms saying anybody with money shouldn’t be excluded from the Peace Dividend. There were people there from Queen’s University who were looking for the money. Everybody was looking for this money, but it’s supposed to be for the damaged communities – the communities who have borne the brunt of the troubles, the so-called ‘troubles’.
Unemployment: “I had that gentleman, he was one of the European Commissioners – he came up to my house for tea, all he got was tea jam and butter, it was the only thing that was there, you know what I mean. I’ve been unemployed for seventeen years – I haven’t had a job. Any job I’ve been offered was £80 a week … £80 a week isn’t going to feed me – I have four children and I’m going to be a grandfather, hopefully. I mean the work that’s there – it’s non-existent. And the only work that can be created is the ‘feel-good factor’; if people feel good about themselves, if they can get someone in to create work like that there, for to make people feel good about themselves, that’s the only work we ever see coming to the Ardoyne.
Because there isn’t going to be any big Sony factories or big Ford factories, where they’d create hundreds of thousands of jobs – it’s never going to happen. So what do you do with all the unemployed? Me as an unemployed person, I mean as I’m saying, all these people were talking about me – they were all talking about the damaged community – I just looked at my family and said “we’ve got a microcosm of everything that’s happened in Northern Ireland – the family is a microcosm of everything that’s happened in Northern Ireland.
So what we thought was – I mean a couple of us got together and created a situation in Ardoyne – we’re building up an infrastructure, where people are trying to make their own way without, because government people come and they say to you “have you got your qualifications?” We don’t have no qualifications. The only qualification we have is ‘life’. We live there. We know exactly what’s wrong with it. You see all these people generalise about us – us, who live in a wee small community like Ardoyne, ” you know they’re all this and they’re all that..”, but we aren’t. “We’re 6600 different personalities in there who all want to shout – who all want to talk about their experiences, but nobody gives them a platform. The only ones they’ll talk to are the people who, if you don’t mind me saying it, are real educated. I mean we do a wee bit of research ourselves – to be successful in anything, 25% of anything to do with success is your aptitude, your brainpower and your talent, and the other 75% is commitment. And the people of Ardoyne, through thick and thin, through all these murders and everything that’s gone on, have the commitment – the commitment to live there, the commitment for a stable community, and the commitment to carry on to do whatever they want to do.
And, as Ann says, hopefully this peace will last, and that nobody else has to die – God, I hope that nobody else has to die. But unless they sort out the problem, they’re dealing with the symptoms, and the problem is a big problem, that they’re going to have to tackle – and that is the Irishness and the Britishness of the people who live in North of Ireland. Unless they sort that out, I mean 10 years on, who’s going to start burying our own children? Thank you.”
Chair: On behalf of the Meath Peace Group John Clancy thanked the speakers for coming. Before taking questions he mentioned an interesting statistic – “it was described earlier that over 200 people were affected by the 14 deaths of Bloody Sunday – if you equate that with the three and a half thousand that have lost their lives over the last 25 years, then somewhere between a quarter of a million and half a million have been scarred by that violence – I think that’s a salutary lesson to us all. I think it’s just interesting when all the rhetoric is done, and the posturing of the various groups, this is the hurt and wound that is left in the society that constitutes Northern Ireland”.
Editor’s note: there were many questions from the audience but these were not recorded
Meath Peace Group Report. 1995
Compiled by Marian Kerrigan from audio tapes recorded by Anne Nolan; edited by Julitta Clancy
Meath Peace Group contact names 1995: Anne Nolan, Slane, Co. Meath; John and Julitta Clancy, Batterstown, Co. Meath; Pauline Ryan, Navan; Philomena Boylan-Stewart, Longwood; Michael Kane, An Tobar, Ardbraccan
16th May, 1995
St. Columban’s College, Dalgan Park, Navan.
Rev. Leslie Carroll (Presbyterian Minister, Tiger’s Bay, North Belfast)
Fr. Brian Lennon, SJ (Jesuit community, Portadown, author of After the Ceasefires – Catholics and the Future of Northern Ireland, Columba Press, 1995).
Rev. Timothy Kinahan (Church of Ireland Rector, Gilnahirk, East Belfast, author of: Where do we go from here? – Protestants and the Future of Northern Ireland, Columba Press, 1995)
Chaired by Maeve Lennan
Rev. Leslie Carroll
Fr. Brian Lennon
Rev. Timothy Kinahan
Questions and comments – summary .
Extracts from recent publications of Rev. Kinahan and Fr. Lennon
1. Rev. Leslie Carroll (Presbyterian Minister, Tiger’s Bay, North Belfast):
Time of crisis: “We live in a time of crisis – crisis of change and of identity, and also a time of joy and expectation as we wait to see what the outcome of the peace process will be; but I believe that we in the North and beyond must not only wait and see what will happen, but must also find ways with which to engage in the process at all levels, personal, emotional, political, community etc.”,
Stressing the need for the churches and ordinary people to be involved in the peace process, Rev. Carroll said “We must find ways with which to engage in the process at all levels. We have all played our part in the violence of the last 25 years, either by our disinterest or our sectarian interest, and some by active participation in sectarian violence. We have a responsibility to engage with other denominations in order that this time of hope cannot be lost”
Rev. Carroll explained that she worked in an inner city congregation in North Belfast, an area which had often been referred to as the “killing fields” of Belfast. Her church building is on one of the “peace lines” dividing the Protestant Tiger’s Bay and the Catholic New Lodge areas.
Perceptions of people in the Republic:
“As a Presbyterian I entertain the notion that generally speaking the people of the Republic are not particularly interested in what is happening in the North nor do they have any great understanding of the thoughts and feelings of the people who live there, and that is a particularly true perception of the unionist population.”
She quoted from a letter in the Irish Times (15th May) – “the Long Bore” – a letter expressing boredom with the “interminable peace process in Northern Ireland”. Such letters go a long way to “feed our insecurity”, she said.
“We in the North, or unionists at least, have yet to be convinced that people in the Republic are truly interested in us, as we have yet to be convinced by republicanism that there is room for us and for our Britishness.”
“Presbyterians and unionists in Northern Ireland are people who long to be understood, long to be listened to and to be taken seriously. It is our perception that the world has grasped republican and nationalist ideologies but has little sympathy or understanding of the unionist position.”
Unionist thinking: Unionist thinking was greatly influenced by the democratic structure of Presbyterianism, she explained, which is the largest denomination in Northern Ireland. At the annual Presbyterian assembly ministers and elders have equal number of votes. The business of the denomination throughout the year is carried out by boards and committees and within congregations there is shared responsibility. At every level, she said, decisions are made by groups which are accountable to the whole. Decisions are never made by individuals. Unionists, she said, find it difficult to accept things like the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the Hume-Adams talks, the Downing Street Declaration and the Framework Documents.
“Documents and discussions given birth in secrecy give rise to deep suspicion…they represent hidden agendas and attempts to exclude us from the whole process.” As Garrett Fitzgerald said recently, “it is not always possible to know what is happening in the peace process”. It is certainly the unionist perception, she said, that others.. have been unwilling to show their full hand. There is a perception of secret deals being done. On the other hand, Unionists have always stated the case as they see it. “Part of our culture is not to negotiate but rather to state our case clearly and precisely as we see it. So we have come to be known as a suspicious and immovable people, hard-hearted and intransigent who care for the clarity of words more than we do for the process of negotiation.”
Some of this may be true, she said. But it is also true to say that the sense of alienation which Presbyterians feel from the process as a whole is “due to the fact that we are dependent on an entirely different system of government than the majority of people on this island.”
Presbyterian response in fragile time of hope:
Rev. Carroll went on to discuss how she saw Presbyterians responding to the issues which confront us in what is still a fragile time of hope: “As a denomination we have a responsibility to one another, both to challenge and support attitudes and thoughts, while at the same time engaging with other denominations, and indeed those of no denomination, in order that this time of hope, this Kairos moment might not be lost”.
“Presbyterians are people of the Word, that is the Word of God which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. We have come to define ourselves in standards, most notably the Westminster Confession of Faith, which very clearly states what we are not. As Presbyterians in Ireland we are in search of a new identity or at least a revitalised identity which begins back at the Reformation…It is to this root that we must return, in order that we might become a people of positive and clear identity”, where the old insecurities might be swallowed up and people would feel free to enter negotiations.
Fear and insecurity:
“To exist by fear is to exist out of a profound sense of insecurity. That profound sense of insecurity comes our sense of being a minority on this island, a minority that wants to stay in the Union”. The unionist community have yet to move beyond their insecurity, she said, “so as no longer to be governed by the fear in which we exclude ourselves from the peace process”, and “the church in its various denominations has the duty to support, encourage and challenge.”
Quoting Cardinal Carlo Martini, she said there is fear of many things – fear of oneself, fear of exposing ourselves, fear of reciprocity which is at the root of all forms of paternalism and explicit and implicit possession of others, it produces an inability to enter into genuine dialogue. The unionist position, she said, is perhaps best understood in the words of Marcel Proust, “The true paradises are the paradises we have lost.” …”The lost paradise of the day when we knew ourselves to be a majority, still lives on in the minds of unionism“.
As Presbyterians and people of the Word, “we must also live with the words of Jesus”, she said, – “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – and with the Psalmist – “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”, which might be better written in our time “the earth is the Lord’s and everyone in it.”
“To live separate from one another is to live contrary to the Word and so we all, but particularly Presbyterians, must move away from concepts of winners and losers, defenders and aggressors, and move towards a concept of new community with shared expression and a shared experience of difference and hurt.” To return to the basic principle of the Reformation, she said, we must return to a commitment to being a people of the Word, made tangible in this day.
“To declare who we are and to speak into our differences, so that those differences no longer divide us but become the place of our meeting, and in this sense, our difference unites us.”
Individual conscience: Presbyterians uphold the right of individual conscience, she said. “This individualism has not however given us freedom in the political realm”, she said – the perception being typified by the question she was asked recently by a republican – “does one have to be a a unionist to be a Presbyterian?” It is the right of every individual to make their choice, and the “possibility for us to live in harmony despite our different choices.”
Time for courage and risk: “This is a time for courage, and also a time for risk. It is the time for the Church to declare its hand as an institution not of the present age, but of the age to come”. “For we are like no other institution in this society – our identity is not bound up with this age – our identity is ultimately bound up with the age that is yet to come and it is in this age that we find our fulfilment. So in this difficult and fragile time, we have the freedom to live beyond the identities which have trapped us and stifled us for the last 25 years and longer. We also have the responsibility to listen to others, and to listen in trust and expectation.”
Presbyterians have for too long been a suspicious people, Rev. Carroll said – “a people driven by fear.” “We have to learn to take the risk to trust, and to carefully challenge, in both love and trust, the words of people like Jim Gibney (SF) who wrote in the Irish News (May 15th) – ” We will consider any political models designed to accommodate the special characteristics of the Irish people which history has handed down to us. We must reassess our historical attitude to those almost 1m people who are of British origin and have lived on this island for several hundred years. They have carried their sense of Britishness with them during this time; while at one level it was a source of conflict, at another level, it has contributed to what constitutes the Irish nation today.”
“Until we change the dynamic of relationships from suspicion and fear to forgiveness and trust, we remain people of the past…We remain people paralysed, immobilised and disempowered”. Jesus was not in the business of paralysing individuals or communities, she said. “Jesus was in the business of setting free and empowering.” This clearly is the business of churches, and of us all.
Victims of violence: “It is time to move beyond the overwhelming sense of sacrifice while at the same time ministering to the needs of those who carry the deep wounds inflicted on them by the other community. They must not be forgotten in the struggle for a lasting peace in Ireland. Their loved ones will never come back, their injured bodies will not be made whole, their years in prison cannot be restored to them nor to their families…but to dwell on sacrifice with no sense of empowerment for the future is indeed to be paralysed, a sense of the sacrifices made can urge us on to something better”. “Too long a sacrifice will make a stone of the heart”, wrote W. B. Yeats.
The duty of every Christian and for the churches is as ever ” to allow theology to live”, difficult as that might be.
Rev. Carroll concluded: “We are left to wonder in the words of Robert Frost, whether it is true that “good fences make good neighbours” or if it is worth acknowledging and working with the notion that “something there is that doesn’t love a wall…”
2. Fr. Brian Lennon, SJ (Jesuit community, Portadown):
The ceasefires: “The ceasefires are a wonderful experience. They have transformed the situation, at a day-to-day level that I think is very difficult to imagine.” When the IRA ceasefire was announced, many people in Northern Ireland were not so euphoric as people in the South – at first they didn’t believe it. Even still “they are very very cautious.” Part of this was caution about what way they peace process might go and partly because the process of adjusting from a situation of violence, where actually there are certainties, to a situation of peace and where there is some uncertainty.
Confusion: But the ceasefires have produced enormous confusion in some people, he said. There is great bitterness and anger among many people, even among committed Christians – this is only human. “In reconciliation we confront confused feelings in ourselves and anger that may shock us in its intensity.”
Ambiguity and ambivalence: “The processes going on in the peace dialogue are ambiguous. There’s been an upsurge in street violence – and there may be more in coming months – for one reason that people will be less afraid of getting shot at.” The political gap between the parties involved is enormous, he said – between Sinn Fein and unionists on the arms issue, and the gap between Sinn Fein and both governments and all the other parties on this island, on the issue of consent. However he noted Sinn Fein’s participation in the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, the outcome of which will be to accept the principle of consent.
Fr. Lennon referred to an article by Fintan O’Toole after the IRA ceasefire, which commented on the ambiguity in language. As Rev. Carroll had said, Protestants like clear definite language – and “the one thing that John Hume and Gerry Adams did not give for 2, if not 20, years before the ceasefires, was clear and definite language“. But, “there was a clear answer on the 1st September last year”.
With all the difficulties, the peace process is still a huge step forward, he said. The IRA ceasefire statement “is like a beacon of light in the whole history of Irish nationalism”, that is, the commitment to violence side of it.
Task of the church: What is the task of the church in this context? – “To witness to the presence of God’s community among us, and that is a community of divergence, a community of difference. It’s starting point is the Trinity, probably the most forgotten teaching of all Christian truths, and the Trinity is a teaching about community – 3 persons unique and diverse but who are also one.”
Reconciliation and justice: The most central task for all our churches, Fr. Lennon said, is to give total, if not exclusive priority to reconciliation. “There is no more important task facing the churches.” This is not accepted by the churches in practice. “If we are not committed to reconciliation as a priority we are not in touch with God”. This should be of some concern. There are models in the scriptures – the Pharisees – who kept to the law and put their faith in the law and believed themselves to be in touch with God. The law was put above all else as the means of getting in touch with God, and Jesus said “no – you are wrong, the only way you get in touch with God is through compassion”.
Jesus’s life was dedicated to breaking down the divisions between the self-righteous and the sinners, and the foreigners who were outside the covenant community, Fr. Lennon said. God’s call was not simply to a narrow Jewish community. The parallel for today, is that “We will not be in touch with God by being members of churches, we will not be in touch with God by religious observances, but we will only be in touch with God by committing ourselves to reconciliation.”
Justice must go along with reconciliation, he stressed – one form of reconciliation is really an attempt at politeness used as a means to block dialogue and to avoid tough questions of division between people. There are different concepts of “justice” – it is a very strong word in the Catholic community of Northern Ireland. For that reason, “Right relationships” might perhaps be a more appropriate term than justice, but he would prefer to use “justice”.
Different concepts of justice: Fr. Lennon explained the different understandings of justice – 1) you will treat me justly when you give me what you owe me (very much a 17th century understanding of individual rights); 2) the biblical concept shalom – community involved in right relationships with each other and involved in relationships with one another that are “mutual relationships”. The second, biblical form is particularly relevant in the whole context of reconciliation, he said.
Policing: Turning to the issue of policing, Fr. Lennon said that in some respects this is the most important of the issues that have to be faced – “it is the one that is really going to impact on the lives of people in more deprived areas.” Catholics/nationalists will have to face issues in relation to policing, he said. “There will be no settlement of the policing issue based on a concept of justice which demands rights for nationalists only. There will be no answer for the policing issue, until nationalists take responsibility for policing in the North.”
“If the Catholic nationalist community feel aggrieved, and if Sinn Fein particularly feel humiliated in many respects by the peace process, the unionist community feel threatened, feel they are facing the brink, feel they are facing an inevitable united Ireland”, something which always surprises him.
That issue of policing is a demand on nationalists -“they have to play a role in creating new structures in Northern Ireland and in joining and taking responsibility in those new structures.” This is enormously difficult for nationalists, who have been in opposition to the State since its foundation. “In the end those structures will have to be built using words that are explicit and are clear”. Unionists have to face the fact that a different police service in Northern Ireland will be one “where there is change in its identity and change in its accountability…where nationalist will have to take up a fair share of the number of jobs in policing”
Concept of Irishness: The term “Irishness” can be understood in a variety of different ways, he said. Protestants say it is an exclusive concept and they are basically right. “I don’t think we really allow for the Britishness of people in our concept of Irishness”. Within the UK framework there is a concept of Irishness that is different -there Irishness is parallel to Scottish or Welsh or English. He is not absolutely convinced how strong within the United Kingdom there is respect for that diversity and …clearly there is a drive within the UK to separate themselves from Ireland. “this can be difficult for an Irish person, within the UK concept, living in Northern Ireland, faced with an Irishness understood by the rest of the people that tends to exclude.”
Reconciliation: “If we are to take reconciliation seriously we must make space to listen to each other and spend time with each other as you are doing here tonight”, he said. Lay people will perform a whole series of activities as in Portadown. We will have to face issues about our individual denominational worship. We have a long way to go “if we are actually going to put reconciliation, rather than maintenance of our own communities, as a priority.”
Editor’s note: extracts from Brian Lennon’s book After the Ceasefires – Catholics and the Future of Northern Ireland (Columba Press, 1995) are reproduced at the end of this report.
3. Rev. Timothy Kinahan (Church of Ireland Rector, Gilnahirk, East Belfast)
“Things have changed a great deal up in the North. Life’s so much easier now…There are still a lot of problems but life has changed remarkably for everybody”.
Reaching out: “The air is full of words….There’s plenty of advice, plenty of thinking, plenty of ideas, plenty of challenges, but…for far too much of the case, these thoughts and challenges and words are falling on deaf ears. We speak to our own respective communities and reinforce the sense of identity of our own people. There is very little sign of trying to reach out – to speak to the other in a way that can really be heard and to listen to what others have to say. The guns have fallen silent but there is not yet a ceasefire in our attitudes and in our words.”
Understanding: He spoke of a recent meeting of the Interchurch group on Faith and Politics addressed by a Unionist MP, who was asked by a member of the nationalist community to put himself in the shoes of nationalists, to understand them – “I can only do that when I’ve come to an accommodation”, said the MP. But, said Rev. Kinahan, “we can’t come to a realistic accommodation until we understand the way the other feels”. The MP in question would be similar to most unionists in this.
The Presbyterian tradition is very dominant, Rev. Kinahan said. Many Unionists are quite content to see what the other wants – to face a list of demands, but they don’t ever want to get to the situation where they can see why the other person wants those things, why the other person disagrees. There’s very little will to move out. Many unionists disbelieve the accusations of unionist misrule in the past, he said. “There’s a block there. It’s an understandable block in the light of our polarised communities, in the light of our situation and the pain and suffering of the last 25 years. But “it’s very easy to pillory people because they don’t understand or don’t want to understand. The more you pillory people for that the more you reinforce them in their unwillingness to move“.
Need to move forward: Christian people need to move beyond this, Rev. Kinahan said – “We need to take risks – to move beyond the ghettoes of our own traditions, the ghettoes of our own minds, the ghettoes of place, the ghettoes of community, the ghettoes of our own religious denominations”.
Parishes are inward looking by their very nature, he said. We spend a lot of time with our own people doing our own things. For most people involved in parish life it’s a big effort to take an extra step, to take on an extra commitment which involves extra time. “The church really does need to lead in the process of trying to get people to seek to understand. That’s all too rare from all sides. He said that the “para” church groups – Corrymeela, Columbanus Community etc. are working at the edges of the churches – not disowned but not fully owned by the mainline churches who are “caught in their own traps”. The central bodies of the churches sometimes come out with very good statements – positive statements for reconciliation and understanding, he said, and he cited the work of the Presbyterian Church and Government Committee. But these statements don’t filter down, he said. Most people are comfortable in their pews. “We are comfortable in our prejudices, we know where we are and we are afraid to move onto strange and uncharted waters, despite the promise of Christ that He will be with us.”
Negative voices: Despite the positive statements, most voices are negative, he said. Pious vacuity – statements produced that don’t say much, and are not worth the paper they are written on. “We play safe” – again, very understandable.
He related how the Church of Ireland bishops in the North recently went to see the Prime Minister, John Major. The impression was given that they were representing the unionist position. This reinforced all the stereotyping of the church being the spiritual arm of unionism. Again at the Forum – they articulated unionist fears – echoing prejudice but not challenging the people to move forward. That takes risks. There are many clergy who want to move forward, to be ecumenical, but play it safe – they don’t want to rock the boat, he said. They were more concerned with the buildings of the church, and keeping the congregation numbers up. Secularisation is gathering pace fast – this will accelerate hugely. Churches are therefore very reluctant to offend anybody in the ranks, and move nowhere.
His recent book was very critical of current unionism. Some felt that he was doing great damage to the church. Perhaps he was doing damage to the institution of the church, but perhaps it needs to be damaged and may need to be radically altered and rebuilt from the ground.
Maybe people who want to move forward need to be a conscience, he said – “seeking to apply the word of God to ourselves instead of criticising others”. “We’re too busy pointing the finger at others – we have to see what we can do and not leave it to others to make the first move.”
Protestant community: The problems are deeper within the Protestant community, he felt. Greater signs of flexibility among Catholics. There were cultural reasons for this. Protestants prefer things to be clear and decisive. Any sense of frameworks without bricks is threatening. “We need to recognise we are prisoners within our own history.” He saw very little sign of Protestants moving forward to make a gesture of generosity.
Protestant churches were largely unable to see the other point of view. “We feel misunderstood but do not seem to want to understand others.”
The churches need to recognise they are not the mainstream of Irish life – we need to return to being a voice in the wilderness, he concluded. But “how can we do these things without going so far ahead of our community that we lose them completely?”
Editor’s Note: Extracts from Rev. Kinahan’s book Where Do We Go From Here? – Protestants and the Future of Northern Ireland (Columba Press, 1995) are reproduced at the end of this report.
Chair: Maeve Lennan thanked the speakers and summed up the key points emerging from the discussion and the contributions of the speakers:
- Time to take risk in trusting
- Fear in taking risks
- Trinity and community
- Communication. Too much secrecy
- Need to be involved in interchurch work
QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION – points raised
Integrated education; common religion taught to all children.
Catholics – time of crisis and time of conversion.
Reconciliation should be the first task of Christians.
Role of women – we must listen to the voice of women
Use of word “church” – should be “kingdom”
Divorce – how would change in the Republic affect North-South relations?
People are not listening to the churchmen. Bread and butter issues dominate.
Should we keep politics out of our interfaith dialogue?
Biographical notes on speakers:
Rev. Leslie Carroll has been minister in the Tiger’s Bay Presbyterian congregation, North Belfast, for the past 3 years. Before that she was assistant minister with the Rosemary congregation, also in North Belfast.
Rev. Timothy Kinahan is Church of Ireland Rector of Gilnahirk, East Belfast. From 1984-1990, Rev. Kinahan was Rector of St. Columba’s Whiterock, on the “Front Line” between the Falls and the Shankill. He is the author of a recent book Where do we go from here? – Protestants and the Future of Northern Ireland (Columba Press) which challenges many of the certainties that have dominated Northern Irish Protestantism for so long.
Fr. Brian Lennon S.J. has been living in a small Jesuit community in a working-class area of Portadown for the last fourteen years. He is the author of a recent book After the Ceasefires – Catholics and the Future of Northern Ireland (Columba Press) which examines the serious questions that have to be resolved from a nationalist point of view and analyses them in the light of major events in the history of nationalism.
Maeve Lennan is a counsellor psycho-therapist working in Navan and Dublin. She has considerable experience in ecumenical and interchurch work, having lived in Belgium for 20 years. She obtained a degree in theology in Louvain and worked in religious education for many years. Her ecumenical experiences range from religious education, ecumenical groups, pulpit exchange programmes, multidenominational prayer groups etc.
Editor’s note: Extracts from the recent books of Rev. Kinahan and Fr. Lennon follow:
APPENDIX – BOOKS:
1. Where do we go from here? – Protestants and the Future of Northern Ireland(Rev. T.C. Kinahan, Columba Press, 1995)
Starting from the assumption that the Ulster Protestant heritage is something to be proud of and is worthy of encouragement, Rev. Timothy Kinahan questions whether the best interests of the Protestant community are being well served by unionism as currently practised. He argues that the Ulster Protestant community has for too long been dominated by attitudes that are not consonant with their biblical faith and ideals. He feels that the best way for Protestants to preserve what is best and most positive in their culture is to talk, with an open agenda, to seek new paths, to take risks in the cause of greater peace, justice and prosperity for all.
Extracts and main points:
“It is a sad truth that the politics of the Northern Irish Protestant community as a whole are motivated by…narrow, tribally-based self interest, rather than by a broader feeling for the interests of the whole community….Yet gut reaction cannot just be dismissed. There are very good reasons (as well as very bad ones) why we Ulster Protestants have taken the political stances we have. We are an immigrant community, and immigrants are insecure, despite the centuries. We feel threatened…by the dominant Gaelic culture that surrounds us and are therefore reluctant to place too much trust in that community…We want to preserve our culture and identity which is a noble aim. Yet, we have hitched all our colours to one mast – the mast of unionism. This is very dangerous. Surely it would be safer, and wiser, to explore every honourable avenue to settlement, a settlement in which we all can feel secure.”(p. 53)
Writing in the immediate aftermath of the publication of the Framework Documents, Rev. Kinahan states that the negatives seem once again in the ascendant, and asks “where is the generosity of spirit that should be the hallmark of the Christian and the Protestant mind? Where is the real willingness to talk with an open agenda? Where is the willingness to admit that there is an Irish dimension… that needs more than toothless committees to give it life? Where is the willingness to take risks, to be bold for the sake of all?” (p. 56)
Reiterating the biblical challenge, Rev. Kinahan asks the following questions:
“Is it a Christian merit to cling to supposed privilege? Is it a Christian merit to refuse to talk with those enemies that Christ told us to love? Was it a Christian merit to dismiss, for seventy five years, the nationalist cries of alienation and pleas for justice?…Is it a Christian merit to seek for a return to Stormont-type “majority rule” while angrily denouncing any suggestion of a united Ireland?…Is it a Christian merit to seek a monopoly of political power when Christ regarded such power as a satanic delusion?” (p. 56) “A mutual recognition of the reality of fears, without necessarily accepting the validity of those fears, is vital for our future in Northern Ireland.”
Rev. Kinahan writes of the crisis in unionism and in Ulster Protestantism generally and hopes that the crisis “may yet force us to examine other options, and to begin to talk seriously and constructively with all comers. I hope that this will encourage us to seek new paths, to take risks for the cause of greater peace, justice and prosperity for all; to take risks to ensure that the society that arises out of our current chaos is one that respects and enhances both the identities and the cultures of all“ (p. 64)
Forgiveness: “Community forgiveness, by all sides, is desperately needed. If we refuse to forgive, or admit our own need of forgiveness, we condemn ourselves to live in a prison of bitterness from which there is no other escape.” (p. 66)
“A realistic, Christian input into the political and peacemaking process depends on the Christian churches and denominations getting their own houses in order.” (p. 74)
Christians in Northern Ireland today must ask many questions, the writer says. “They mustgrapple with them, difficult as they are, as individuals and as churches, at all levels. Theology of this importance cannot be left to the professionals or the synods: it must be done in the churches, in bible study groups, in the homes and bars and street corners of this land.” (p. 73)
“If we speak the truth to each other in love..instead of shouting our “truths” and refusing to listen or hear tell of any other “truth”, there is a chance that we might learn something from each other. If we have the courage to abandon the silly pretence that “our side” has a monopoly of truth, there is a chance that we might begin to have the riches of our own tradition enriched from the “other side”. If we can muster the courage to accept that we might be wrong…then there is a chance that a harmony might break out between our various church traditions.” (p. 81)
“Anyone who genuinely desires peace and justice in this land must seek them in both the political and religious spheres, at one and the same time. Even after the ceasefires there is no real shalom in our land. So long as we Ulster Protestants refuse to respect or even hear the political and religious opinions of our Roman Catholic neighbours, there will be division and hatred in our land.”(p.92)
2. After the Ceasefires – Catholics and the Future of Northern Ireland (Fr. Brian Lennon, SJ, Columba Press, 1995).
This book asks what tasks Catholics face in responding to the political and social realities of Northern Ireland and its relationship with both Britain and the south, in the aftermath of the 1994 ceasefires and the author approaches the issue from two different perspectives – the theological as well as the political. He looks critically, but constructively, at the Catholic/Nationalist community and offers not only criticisms but also shows possible alternatives.
Arguing that reconciliation and justice must go together, he goes on to outline the major concerns of Irish nationalism at the 1994 ceasefire, and examines topics such as the nation state, the issue of consent, political structures, security, the issue of minorities, pluralism and the treatment of economically deprived people.
Fr. Lennon poses the questions that remain to be resolved and analyses them in the light of major events in the recent history of nationalism: the Forum for a New Ireland (1984), the Anglo-Irish Agreement (1985) and the Downing Street Declaration (1993):
– Do nationalists fully accept the principle that N.I. should remain part of the UK as long as the greater number of its people desire?
– How is the Irish identity of nationalists in N.I. to be recognised?
– What sort of structures should there be in policing in order to take proper account of nationalists as well as unionists?
Consent: Outlining the differences between the SDLP and Sinn Fein in their understanding of nationalism, Fr. Lennon states that the issue of consent has not yet been resolved. “There has been movement from 1980 so that now all the nationalist parties, with the exception of Sinn Fein, are committed to accepting the principle of consent as outlined in the DowningStreet Declaration.”
Faith: Behind the political and constitutional questions, he argues some faith questions: “What sort of faith do we bring to our political dilemmas? In what way do we view our political opponents?”
“Divisions among the churches reinforce the political and secular divisions that exist. We have inherited a tragic history in which our ancestors were divided across a range of issues, including religion. But because we have inherited these divisions we are faced with the task of responding to them. Our response can…continue and reinforce these divisions…or we can tackle the divisions and pass on interchurch relations radically different from those we have received.” (p. 92-3) “In Northern Ireland, people are divided in their housing, jobs, schools, interpretation of history, attitude to their state and political loyalties. This produces a separateness that is lethal.” (p. 93)
Community: “The degree to which the church responds to its calling to be a sign of God’s community in the world is the degree to which it will be in touch with God. It needs to make the building of community an absolute priority.”
Northern Ireland political identity: “There is a need for Catholics, out of their faith commitment, to contribute to a crucial task: helping to develop a Northern Ireland political identity…Whatever political settlement is arrived at in the future, the people of Northern Ireland will have to live with each other. In almost any political scenario, Northern Ireland is going to continue as a political entity, albeit as part of some wider structure. There is therefore a crucial need to encourage anything that helps the development of a positive Northern Ireland identity for both nationalists and unionists. If all the churches in Northern Ireland gave themselves seriously to the task of encouraging such a process, it could make a dramatic impact for good.” (pp. 114-115)
In the final two sections of his book, Fr. Lennon integrates the scriptural and political vision and suggests changes in the area of church and worship (looking particularly at issues such as intercommunion, ecumenism, interchurch marriages, role of clergy and the marginalisation of women), and secondly in the relationship between church and society (political issues, integrated education, divorce, cultural identity). He looks at the continuing theme in Irish nationalism that the British have been responsible for grave injustice against the Irish:
“The wrongs that the British have done to Irish people need to be acknowledged. This is crucial in the healing of memories… Because of wrongs committed in the past, and wrongs in the area of justice that are still being maintained by the British government, British people have a particular duty to be concerned about the well-being of Irish people. However…Irish people have also done great wrong to British people. The most obvious examples are the atrocities committed by the IRA..The IRA are part of the Irish people just as the Nazis were part of the German people. So it isat least appropriate that Irish people play a special role in seeking the welfare of British people as a result.” (p. 117)
“Forgiveness is part of reconciliation … it is the task of the victim to offer it. But there is no reconciliation until those who cause the suffering come to terms with what they have done and seek the forgiveness of those they have harmed.” (p. 160)
The book concludes with the author’s constitutional and political suggestions covering issues such as a Bill of Rights, Articles 2 and 3, Northern political structures, North-South structures and policing changes.
“Good states do not get built by accident. They come into existence because of hard political thinking and action. They depend on a vision. That vision has to take account of the needs both of individuals and groups within the body politic. It also has to deal with external relationships. The vision has to be inclusive. It has to balance power between different groups and classes. It has to protect minorities.. it has to be a dream to which all can relate. It has to be a means by which one can have pride in the state and identify with its people.” (p. 162)
Meath Peace Group report – May 1995. Compiled by Julitta Clancy
Contact names 1995: Anne Nolan, Gernonstown, Slane, Co. Meath; Julitta Clancy, Parsonstown, Batterstown, Co. Meath