IRISH TIMES: Peace Rallies

Marcus L. Endicott (
Sun, 11 Apr 1993 16:43:30 -0700 (PDT)

/* Written 3:50 pm Apr 10, 1993 by in igc:soc.culture.ce */
/* ---------- "IT 5-APR-93: Peace Rallies" ---------- */
Irish Times reports on various peace rallies in Ireland in Britain.
Posted without permission.

Separate peace rallies emphasises divide
YESTERDAY'S peace rally in west Belfast organised by the Rel atives for
Justice group was attended by about 3,000 people, more than 10 times the
number who took part in the Peace '93 rally in the south of the city.
Belfast had been too deeply divided to hold a single event and there
was a marked social and political difference between the two events. In
nationalist west Belfast, working-class men, women and children--some
carrying black flags, others clutching white carnations -- marched to
Divis Flats where the first child to be killed in the Northern conflict,
nine-year-old Patrick Rooney, was shot by the security forces 23 years a
His parents aid flowers in front of a faded photograph hung on railings
outside the flats. Others carried placards bearing the name of their dead
relations. All the victims who were remembered had been killed by the
RUC, the British army or loyalist paramilitaries.
The rally's organisers said they had not wanted the event to be
confined to West Belfast, but that the RUC had refused per mission to
march to City Hall where they wanted to join people from middle-class and
Protestant areas of Belfast.
It would have been difficult however, to imagine relatives or members
of the security forces walking beside marchers carrying placards
remembering the dead H-block hunger-strikers.
The west Belfast rally was attended by the Sinn Fein presi dent Mr
Gerry Adams the party's Belfast city councillors, and many of its
representatives from other parts of the North. By contrast, there
appeared to be no SDLP presence. `'Where's our MP? Where's Joe Hendron?"
asked one group of men.
There was a strong sense of defiance among the crowd. These were the
people whose families and friends had been jeered and assaulted in Dublin
last weekend and many displayed hostility towards the Peace '93
organisers They were jubilant that the south-city rally had attracted
only 250 people.
Ms Tina Maginn, whose son Gerald died in the back seat of a stolen car
when he was shot by the RUC in 1991, broke down in tears and had to leave
the podium when she addressed the crowd. A letter was read out from a
former British soldier, Mr Bob Harker, announcing that he had donated his
service medal to Ms Eileen Kelly whose daughter Carol Ann had been killed
by a plastic bullet.
Ms Anne Bradley of the Relatives for Justice group was de lighted with
the size of the rally. 'We are just ordinary people. We can't say fancy
things or make fancy speeches. We just want peace," she said. Ms Bradley
called for all those involved in violence in the North to engage in
talks. "No party should Be excluded," she said.
Across the city at Queen's University, the students' union president,
Ms Kate Fearon, said it was sad that the loyalist murders of six
Catholics in Castlerock, Co Derry, appeared to have been largely ignored
compared with the Warrington victims. No one had a monopoly on suffering,
she said.
Peace '93's Northern spokesman, Mr Paul Smyth, condemned the treatment
endured by members of the Relatives for Justice group at the Dublin
rally. The word "peace" had been shouted at them as if it was a weapon,
he said. Mr Smyth welcomed a statement by Mr Adams urging nationalists to
become involved in the peace movement. However, Peace '93 would resist a
nationalist agenda "whether it is a British or an Irish one", he added.
Earlier yesterday, Ms Susan McHugh told a press conference in
Belfast that she had been close to tears on hearing the stories of west
Belfast mothers whose children had been killed by plastic bullets.
When asked if she was naive about life in areas such as west Belfast,
she said: "Every day I am learning how much I don't know." Ms McHugh
added that, if approached, she would meet loyalist or republican
paramilitaries. There had been enough killing in the North and it was
time to talk, she said.

Peace rallies held across the country

Irish Times Reporter

THOUSANDS took part in peace rallies throughout the country
yesterday, in addition to the main events in London and
Belfast. But many of them attracted far fewer people than had
been expected .
Church bells rang out across Ireland at I p.m. to coincide
with the start of the London rally, which was attended by a
disappointing crowd of about 1,600 m Hyde Park. Mr John Haycock
the Dubliner who telephoned every bishop in the country last
week to ask for their cooperation in getting the bells to ring,
said last night that there had been "a superb response".
Mr Michael Nugent said New Consensus and Peace Train both
welcomed Peace '93 as an addition to the ongoing anti-killing
campaign which has evolved in the Republic since the formation
of New Consensus in 1989'`. The anger and revulsion of the
Irish people must be channeled into constructive action for
peace, he said.
The London rally, which was addressed by Ms Susan McHugh the
initiator of Peace '93. was interrupted by members of the
Troops Out movement which wants British troops withdrawn from
Northern Ireland.
In Cork city, an estimated 1,000 people wearing white arm
bands turned out to hear the Lord Mayor, Mr Micheal Martin, con
demn the violence of the last 23 years and the recent
Warrington bombing. Their presence he said was proof that the
people of Ireland. in each city and town, wanted the violence
to end.
In Wexrord, where the numbers were estimated at more than
2,000, Ms Aileen Murphy, a local woman whose 19-year-old sister
Siobhan Roice. was killed in the 1974 Dublin bombings, said the
same heartbreak endured by her family had entered many homes
since. She called on the perpetrators of violence to listen to
the people. In a series of symbolic gestures, a flock of doves
was released over the heads of the crowd and bottles containing
peace messages were tossed into the harbour.

About 1.000 people took part in the Waterford rally. Prayers
for peace were offered.

Limerick's rally attracted around 3,000 people to Perry
Square, where the Bishop of Limerick. the Right Rev Edward
Darling pleaded with the men of violence: ''For God's sake.
stop the killing and bombing campaigns".

A petition was launched at the peace meeting in Maghera, Co
Derry, calling on President Clinton to send a peace envoy to
Northern Ireland. Among the attendance of about 300 were mem
bers of the families of two of the four workmen shot dead by
the UFF at Castlerock.

About 300 people also took part in a parade for peace in
Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, which was addressed by the local
Fine Gael TD, Mr Seymour Crawford. In Crossmaglen, south
Armagh, more than 150 people took part in a demonstration
during which the marchers attached a placard to the perimeter
fence of a British army observation post in the village square
which called for "Peace with Justice`'.

In west Belfast, more than 2,000 people took part in a peace
march on the Falls Road, organised by the Relatives for justice
group. Among the attendance was the president of Sinn Fein, Mr
Gerry Adams.

Other rallies and parades took place in Sligo town; Clonmel,
Co Tipperary; Drogheda, Co Louth; Birr, Co Offaly, Portumna, Co
Galway; New Ross, Co Wexford; Slane, Co Meath; Mountmellick Co
Laois; and Shankill and Rathcoole in Co Dublin.

Hundreds of people took part in a silent rally through
Westport Co Mayo, at which participants signed two books of
condolence, one for the bombings in Warrington and one for
Northern Ireland. The books will remain available for signing
for the next three days.

Hecklers disrupt peace rally in London

HECKLERS demanding the withdrawal of British troops from
Northern Ireland marred a rally in London yesterday in which
hundreds of Irish people living in Britain gathered to add
their voices to recent calls for peace.
The rally was a pale reflection of last week's demonstration
in Dublin attended by up to 20,000. Only about 2,000--mostly
Irish--congregated in Hyde Park. They came to express their
revulsion towards the paramilitary violence that claimed the
lives of two children in Warrington two weeks ago. Banners
starkly proclaimed the latest toll of suffering inflicted by
IRA and loyalist paramilitaries: "Dead 3,053 . . . Injured
Ms Susan McHugh, the childcare worker who inspired the Dublin
rally, told yesterday's audience that she wanted an end to the
violence on all sides but her words were drowned by a
vociferous group of Troops Out supporters chanting "All blood
on British hands".
The protesters, sporting placards which suggested there would
be no peace " without Irish freedom", were in turn barraged
with angry cries by the peace crowd. One man shouted: "Get the
scum out of here." A cacophony of opposing chants of "troops
out" and "we want peace" only ended when the hecklers retreated
from the rally, evoking a resounding cheer.
Apart from this incident, the rally was conducted calmly in
the spirit of nearby Speakers' Corner, where citizens have for
decades enjoyed the right to expound their views. The
Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume, was present in
the crowd and there were messages of support from the
Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, and from Bob Geldof.
There were no celebrities or politicians on the platform.
The organiser, Mr Liam Cleere, a building subcontractor who
has lived in north London for eight years, said: "I am just an
ordinary person. What I have to say comes from my heart. I was
motivated by that little boy who went out to buy a Mother's Day
card in Warrington and was blown away. He had never even heard
of Northern Ireland."
Mr Danny Carter (44), whose daughter Danielle was killed by
the IRA in the London Baltic Exchange bomb a year ago, also
attended the rally. "I didn't think anything like this would
happen. I hope it will make a difference," he said.

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