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EYE ON THE PAST: January 4 & 11, 1975

By Anthony Neeson

Sad home coming for Mary and Billy

IT was a sad Christmas for Mary and Billy Kennedy despite their release from internment on Christmas Eve. For the Kennedys – parents of seven children – found their maisonette home in Divis Flats in ruins when they returned to it just hours before Christmas.
Ceilings and walls had been damaged, the bathroom completely wrecked and doors had been pulled off their hinges and were lying on the floor. “I was heartbroken when I saw the destruction,” said Mary as she sat in the home of her mother, Mrs Mary Brennan, in another part of Divis Flats. “The children told me that British soldiers had raided the house almost every day. Once they searched the house from top to bottom no less than five times,” she said. Mary who was interned in Armagh Jail since May last went on to say that the family would have to find a new home.
“Our house just couldn’t be lived in now,” she said. As she sat with her husband Billy, interned for the second time in June last, she described how she was called to the office of Amagh Jail Governor Whitaker at 11 o’clock Christmas Eve morning.
“I had no idea I was going to be released. Girls are often called to the office to receive the silliest of messages and I assumed he was going to tell me that a visit to Billy in Long Kesh which I had asked for had been turned down,” she said. “He read me a handwritten letter from Merlyn Rees which told me they were doing me a big favour by letting me out to be with the children at Christmas. I asked about my sister Evelyn Gilroy, who has two young babies, but he said that she was being kept in internment.”
n THE milk Marketing Board has warned that all milk being obtained by householders during the present strike by milk roundsmen should be boiled before use.
At present milk is being supplied to the area by farmers who are bringing it straight from their farms and the Board has warned that there could be a serious health hazard if unpasturized milk is used without being boiled.
Milk should be brought to boiling point and cooled as quickly as possible, says the Board. It should not be kept for long periods and bottles and other containers used for collecting milk supplies should be sterilized in boiling water before being used.

Bernie to stand for election

BERNADETTE McAliskey is likely to be a candidate for the new Irish Republican Socialist Party in the forthcoming Northern Ireland Convention elections. She is already a member of the temporary executive of the new party.
The Irish Republican Socialist Party is a breakaway from Official Sinn Féin. It is led by Wicklow County councillor Seamus Costello who over the years has been a prominent member of the Officials, but in recent times in dispute with the organisation.
The breakaway formed itself into a new party following the recent Official Sinn Féin Ard Fheis. John Joe McGirl, recently released from Long Kesh, told a meeting of Leitrim County Council that he was familiar with the thinking of the UVF and the UDA and he was glad to see that many of them were “coming to see the true light”.
He said that this was so even though some of their politicians were not serious about peace and were trying to wreck the current efforts to secure a just and lasting peace in Northern Ireland. The Sinn Féin county councillor went on to say that the policy of the republican movement was not to ask England to put up a white flag but simply to request them to disengage from this country.
The issue was now in the hands of the British Government and he hoped they would come to the right conclusion.
He said he was very pleased that the clergy had become involved in the peace drive and added that nobody desired peace in this country as much as the Provisional IRA.

‘End this evil’ call as some internees are freed

AS 20 internees were released from Long Kesh and Armagh on New Year’s Eve the Association for Legal Justice called for an “end to this evil of internment”.
Among those freed this week were three men who had been held as internees since August 9 1971. They were Lenadoon man Gerry Maguire, Mickey Donnelly from Derry City – one of the ‘hooded men’ – and Art McAlinden from South Armagh.
Mother of two, Mrs Evelyn Gilroy (24), from Divis Flats, was reunited with her children Colette (3) and Denise (1 1/2) minutes after she had been released from Armagh Jail where she has been interned since May. She was the only girl internee released from Armagh.
Former Sinn Féin TD John Joe McGirl, who was lifted on Andersonstown Road as he travelled to Milltown Cemetery from his County Leitrim home for last Easter’s commemoration ceremony was also set free. His internment had brought protest resolutions from local councils throughout Ireland, including Leitrim County Council of which he was a member.
In a comment on the releases Andersonstown Central Civil Resistance Committee joined the ALJ in demanding the immediate closure of Long Kesh.
Speaking on behalf of Andersonstown rent and rates strikers, the Committee welcomed the releases – but it warned that the strike should continue until the last internees has been set free.
The resistance group’s statement said that the spirit with which the internees endured their torture and suffering was admired by all.
“There will be no thanks from us, or from the people of Andersonstown, to the British government for these releases. The men and boys in Long Kesh and the girls in Armagh should never have been parted from their families in the first place,” concluded the statement.
There has been varied reaction to a plea from Fr Des Wilson that policing in areas from which the RUC is excluded should be put in the hands of local community associations.
Andersonstown Central Civil Resistance Committee has described Fr Wilson’s suggestion as “forward looking” but in a statement the Committee goes on to warn that no police service which co-operates with the RUC will have the support of the people of Andersonstown or the Falls. “There is no chance of the RUC ever being accepted in Andersonstown.”
Meanwhile, RUC men took advantage of the truce to set up a road block near the main gate of Falls Park on Boxing Day.

Handy things to know

l Wet the plate before turning a jelly out onto it so you can move the jelly round if you do not place it in the centre in the first place.
l Brown sugar which has been stored for some time tends to become rock hard and difficult to use. To make it soft and moist turn it out into a basin, and cover with a damp cloth for about an hour.
l You’ll get more juice out of your lemon if you put it in a basin of very hot water for a minute or two just before you squeeze it.
l Paint the steps of your ladders with sand and paint. It will make them non-slip and may save an accident.

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