AP 3 - 2022 - 200-2

21 August 1997 Edition

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Editor's desk

After the LVF burnt down their H-Block last week a revealing little comment slipped from the mouth of a Prison Officers Association spokesperson. He said that of all the groups in the H-Blocks the LVF were the ones his men best liked to work with. He said they enjoyed working in LVF wings. He didn't say why and the interviewer didn't ask him. But I reckon that every Blanketman who was hosed down in the depth of winter, or beaten senseless, or had his food spat on could hazard a guess why Long Kesh screws would want to work down a wing that had a mural showing Fred Flintstone with the words ``Yabba Dabba Doo, Any Fenian Will Do''.

 


Wouldn't you agree that this is a pretty momentous period in Irish history? Next month negotiations will begin which will tackle the issues at the heart of the conflict in the Six Counties. Plenty to ponder there for the brightest minds in Ireland, you would think. Well, you'd be wrong. This week University College Dublin has played host to academics from all over the world at a conference entitled The World Congress on Violence and Human Coexistence.

And did they consider the peace process and the upcoming negotiations? Don't be silly. Well, they did, but not in the way you might think. Of the fifty papers presented, three dealt with Ireland. One was a list of the dead over the last 27 years. Another was poet Damian Gorman talking on ``The Need for Love'' and the third was the rabidly anti-Republican Liam Kennedy from Queen's University on ``Worlds of Pain and Silence'' Paramilitary `Policing' in Northern Ireland''.

Not exactly the major issues of the moment, are they?

 


In Camlough last Saturday there was a day of events to raise money for the prisoners. Among them was a Poc Fada involving, as you see, Martin McGuinness and three Sinn Féin Councillors from South Armagh, Packie McDonald, Breandán Lewis and Pat McNamee. But they were all outshone by a man from South Africa.

Geoff Berlyn, seen here shaking hands with Martin McGuinness, first saw hurling on Sky TV in his native South Africa. Intrigued, he asked a fellow student, a Dubliner, what it was all about. He then wrote to Croke Park and asked for a coaching manual, a hurley and a sliothar. Back they came and young Geoff started to practice. And so it was that this year the South African flew to Ireland to take part in the All-Ireland Poc Fada in the Cooley Mountains, which was held a couple of weeks ago. Last week he was invited to the Camlough Sinn Féin Poc Fada, from which he emerged victorious (with McGuinness second, Lewis third, McDonald fourth and McNamee fifth).

 


The removal of bilingual signs in Queen's University Students Union after objections from Unionists makes me think that they may now decide to attack a new target. On the Lord Mayor of Belfast's chain of office - worn with such distinction by Unionists down through the years - is the inscription Erin Go Brágh. Now that Unionists have lost control of the Council they may wish to remove that piece of sectarian triumphalism.

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