Beyond Brexit Panel Discussion The Nolan Show BBC Radio Ulster 28 January 2019

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BBC Radio Ulster
The Stephen Nolan Show

Stephen Nolan invites a panel to discuss last Saturday’s Beyond Brexit conference held at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

(begins)
Stephen:   ‘A newly confident and assertive Nationalism’ – that’s how the Beyond Brexit conference at the Waterfront Hall on Saturday has been described. Sixteen hundred people attended the event which included figures from Irish politics, civil society, civic society and academia. But controversially to some, no Unionist politicians. If you went, tell us what you made of it. Patricia Mac Bride was one of the chairs of the event. Morning to you, Patricia.

Patricia:   Good Morning, Stephen.

Stephen:   Good Morning. The TUV (Traditional Unionist Voice) leader, Jim Allister, with us today. Morning to you, Jim.

Jim:  Good Morning.

Stephen:  Good Morning. And the Newsletter‘s Political Editor, Sam McBride. Good Morning, Sam!

Sam:  Good Morning, Stephen.

Stephen:  Sam, let’s start with you: What’s wrong with Nationalism having a debate in the Waterfront Hall last Saturday? What’s wrong with it?

Sam: 


Source: Slugger O’Toole

Well, there’s nothing wrong with it whatsoever and actually, in terms of the wider argument about trying to get people interested in politics as opposed to taking to the streets if they’re angry or something of that nature, it’s pretty incredible to be able to get something in the region of one and a half thousand people, if I’ve got the figure correct for the number of people who were there, that’s a very large gathering. It’s bigger than you’d expect at a party conference, it’s bigger than you’d expect at a typical political rally or protest – so it’s a pretty significant feat. I think the only really significant argument against what was happening on last Saturday and in terms of how it was billed was that it was being presented as something that was not a Nationalist event – it was being presented as something that was really for anybody who was opposed to Brexit, well, obviously anybody could go along – when you look at the list of people who were speaking almost all of them were people who were coming from a Nationalist perspective – there were a handful of people like Clare Bailey, the leader of the Green Party (in Northern Ireland), but it was really was overwhelmingly Nationalist event and not something which was bringing in people to hear Unionists who oppose Brexit or whatever so that is the point where I think there is very legitimate criticism of that but as a Nationalist event I think it was something which seems to have been very significant and something which Unionist ought to be looking at and thinking: What is going on here and how are we responding to this from our perspective?

Stephen:  Could it have been more inclusive, Patricia?

Patricia:  

Source: Slugger O’Toole

Well, I think it was a hugely successful event. I think that there was some very, very positive contributions there from the likes of Professor Jim Dornan, from Clare Bailey, from Paul Gosling – you know, there were a lot of people there who made very, very positive contributions to the event. There will be many more events and all people, you know, the organisers were very clear on the day that it was an open event – people could register, people could attend – I know that there were Presbyterian ministers who attended and there have been a number of people that I have seen on social media since the event on Saturday who come from a Unionist background who were there who felt that the event was successful, that it was positive, and it gave them a context for Brexit and the impact that it’s having on the rights of all of the citizens of this part of Ireland and of the island as whole. But you know, sometimes families need to talk to each other as well as to talk to their neighbours and I don’t see that there’s anything wrong with that. I think from the point of view of being able to showcase on Saturday the common purpose and the common narrative that is coming out of Nationalism and Republicanism when you see Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party), etc all speaking as one.

Stephen:  Why weren’t Unionists not invited, Patricia?

Patricia:  As I said, sometimes families need to talk to themselves as well as to talk to their neighbours. And this is only one of a number of events…

Stephen:  …Are Unionists not part of the family?

Patricia:  This, well – they’re part of the wider community and I think that this is part of a series of events and those conversations need to continue. And that was something that came out. Were you there, Stephen? Because I know you’ve been very interested in the event. So if you yourself were there you would have known that – the organisers were very clear that this was one of a number of conversations – it’s by no means an exclusive conversation – and that’s something that came out very clearly in the panel that I was chairing and (inaudible)…

Stephen:  …But, do you know why Unionists were not invited?

Patricia:  Because the invitations were sent to people who are opposed to Brexit and the impact that it is having on the rights of our citizens as a result of that…(crosstalk)

Stephen:   …And you don’t think any Unionists are opposed to Brexit?

Patricia:  …and both of the Unionist parties, their party line is that they’re supporting the government on Brexit. So I think what we need to do now is to look at, you know, how we can take the discussion forward, how we ensure that people’s rights are protected. I mean, if you look at the news today you have representatives of manufacturing in Ireland and a number of other business and industry organisations going to Westminster because they’re hugely concerned that less than sixty days from Brexit we don’t know what’s going to happen so we need to have clarity on that…

Stephen:  …Do you know who paid for this, Patricia?

Patricia:  Yes! And as I said Stephen, you’re so very interested in the event and if you were there you would have been very clear on who paid for it…

Stephen:  …You’re very interested in me being interested in the event – who paid for it?

Patricia:  I know the BBC, I know the BBC does a lot of repeats at the moment you know, and there must be budget cuts because you covered this on Friday, but it was very clear, as you would have been aware…

Stephen:  …My goodness! You’re touchy this morning about this – aren’t you?

Patricia:   …the chair of the event, the chair of the event said on Saturday, very clearly, that the event was funded entirely by voluntary donations. There were programmes for the event that were on sale on the day. There is a, there’s a Go Fund Me page that has been set up to pay for the rental of the Waterfront Hall so it’s entirely…

Stephen:  …Was there a major donor?

Patricia:  There are a number of donors from what I understand…

Stephen:   …Was there a significant donor?

Patricia:  …from what I saw there people were putting their hands in their pockets on the day – there was significant donations being made by individuals on the day – so there’s no mystery around this.

Stephen:  Jim Allister, what’s wrong with Nationalism having a conversation with itself? What’s wrong with this?

Jim:  Well, if Republicanism, you know, if Republicanism wants to have a jamboree in Belfast they’re entitled to do that and it’s quite clear that that’s what it was – talking to themselves in the echo chamber about their aspirations but, of course, ignoring – which I’m quite happy to be ignored in this – to ignore those that, if they would ever have to succeed, they’d have to persuade.

Source: The Irish Times

But this conference was about two things: It was about defeating Brexit, something I believe in and it was about dismantling the thing I believe in the most – the union with Great Britain – so it was no place for any Unionist nor was it ever intended to be and, you know, if they want to go talk to themselves – go talk to themselves.

Stephen:  Let’s have a listen to what the Sinn Féin president, Mary Lou McDonald, said at the event – it was just after the event, wasn’t it? – at the weekend.

Audio:  Clip of Mary Lou McDonald speaking is played.

Stephen:  That was actually in the event – calling for a border poll, Patricia. How realistic is that?

Patricia:  Well, I think that you heard there all of the main speakers talking about the legitimacy of a border poll, of a unity referendum, in this island. I mean this is something that no one should be surprised about. It is part of the Good Friday Agreement. The reunification of Ireland, in the context, in the context of the Principle of Consent, is built into the Good Friday Agreement. And if we want to talk about referendums the Good Friday Agreement was passed by a majority of seventy-two percent so, you know, anybody who objects to that conversation happening really doesn’t have a leg to stand on. It’s part of the Good Friday Agreement, discussing the potential of the reunification of Ireland should not be a shock and it should not be anything that causes anyone, you know, to see it as illegitimate in any way. It’s a legitimate political aim – as every one of the contributors said on the day.

Stephen:  Jim Allister?

Jim:  Yes, but don’t dress it up as something it wasn’t. It was quite clear, and indeed I think Patricia Mac Bride has just confirmed it, it was about those who want to dismantle the United Kingdom, those who want to break up the UK, those who want to take Northern Ireland out of its current destiny and annex it into the Republic of Ireland – but it’s their meeting and talking to themselves – and they’re entitled to that. And indeed Patricia Mac Bride’s right about one thing:

Artwork: PressReader
Source: The Belfast Telegraph

The whole purpose and long-term goal of the Belfast Agreement is, indeed, Irish unity –why I’ve always opposed it – and that’s confirmed by the fact that the only referendum you could ever have under the Belfast Agreement is one which effectively asks you: Are you yet ready to join the Irish Republic? So I’m not surprised that on the back of that, Republicans, and I think clearly it was essentially a Sinn Féin event, would want to gather and compare their notes and talk to themselves. They’re entitled to do that but don’t pretend that it’s something that it wasn’t.

Patricia:  Well, I would think, I would think that Minister (for Education and Skills and Fine Gael TD) Joe McHugh and Dara Calleary (TD), the Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil and Colum Eastwood (MLA), the leader of the SDLP, would all disagree with you that it was a Sinn Féin event in the first instance. And in respect of, in respect of Brexit and in the respect of breaking up the United Kingdom well, I mean, Republicans and Nationalists don’t really need to do anything in that respect because the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) and the Tory government are doing just fine on their own because they don’t have a plan, they don’t know what they want, they’re trying to go back to the EU to renegotiate something that they agreed well over a year ago but they still don’t know they’re asking. So in terms of breaking up the union – you know, look to Theresa May instead of looking to the Waterfront Hall.

Jim:  Oh, I have no doubts that Theresa May has many mistakes over Brexit – she has rolled over constantly. She’s now been brought up short by the UK Parliament which has rejected her deal and primarily rejected the backstop. And of course it’s interesting that the people gathering in the Waterfront Hall were the cheerleaders for the backstop. Why? Because they see it as the very thing it is – that which will annex Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom and make us a protectorate of the EU and a waiting room for a united Ireland – that’s exactly what the backstop is. And I’m not surprised that those in the Waterfront Hall know that and I’m just happy that the Prime Minister has been brought up short on that and I hope this week that Parliament will take a stand and say there will be no deal if there’s a backstop and that’s the stand they need to take because that’s the only thing that gives them any leverage with Brussels.

Stephen:  Sam McBride: The front page of the Daily Telegraph this morning and indeed others have been speculating on a Plan B, another Plan B, which would be to have the backstop as a temporary measure, in other words, a time limited backstop could be a solution to the current impasse. I don’t understand how you can have a time limited insurance policy. Do you?

Sam:  Well, it’s certainly not an insurance policy in the way that the dictionary would say that that should be defined. I think that what we’re seeing here is potentially some quite clever politics from the DUP, at least in the short term, because while this has been a shambolic process from the British side in terms of how the Brexit negotiations have been handled, last week was probably the worst week that there has been for the Irish side and there were all sorts of splits, both in terms of what the Irish government was saying itself, which is really self-contradictory, and there were splits opening up with the European Commission where there had been a very united front up until that point and we had the Polish government coming out and saying that really they do think that it’s something that we should look at in terms of putting a time limit on the backstop.

So yes, it is not an insurance policy if it has a time limit but I think the argument from the DUP side, and to a certain extent the logic of some of what the Irish government itself has said last week, is that if there’s a situation whereby, they are saying, even in the worst case Brexit scenario, from their point of view, even in a no-deal Brexit scenario, you still don’t have a hard border – they say they will not do it, they won’t allow it to happen – will then be a very obvious argument that comes back from the DUP: Well, hang on a minute, if even in the worst case scenario there’s not going to be a hard border why on Earth do we need this insurance policy against the hard border? So I think everyone is, to a certain extent, getting trapped by some of the logic of their argument, or the lack of logic of their argument- and there is the potential by the DUP, I suppose, trying to show itself to be reasonable here, showing that they’re willing to compromise, they’re willing to negotiate, that then puts the ball back in the court of the European Union albeit at a very late stage of this process and potentially if there is a split there that’s helps to open that up a bit, widen it out, and really put a bit of pressure on the other side where up until now really all of the pressure has been self-inflicted from the British government and the House of Commons.

Stephen:  In other words, Patricia Mac Bride, why do we need this backstop if it is incredibly unlikely that the Irish government is going to put checkpoints at the border? They aren’t going to build them – are they?

Patricia:  Well, there’s a few points in that that need to be addressed. The first is the issue of the backstop itself and it being an insurance policy. It’s very much a ‘glass half-full scenario’ – it is not what most people, that I have talked to, most people within business in the farming community in this part of Ireland wants – they see it as the best compromise that can be reached at the moment. The idea of Sam saying that ‘the DUP showing themselves willing to compromise on the issue makes it more likely that the EU will re-open negotiations’ is frankly nonsense. And the reason that it’s nonsense is because neither the DUP nor the Tory government has any notion of what it is that they want. So how can you go back into negotiations with the EU27…

Stephen:  …well, the DUP would deny that, wouldn’t they? Oops, I think we’ve lost Patricia…

Patricia:  …and the third issue, and the third issue on that is that, you know, looking at how we move forward from here. There is no benefit to the EU, there’s no need for the EU to go back into negotiations. There’s a very clear programme, there’s a very clear agreement that was negotiated in November 2017 – there’s nothing to renegotiate. There is nothing new being brought to the table. So in those circumstances, you know, when you hear a lone wolf in the Polish government coming out with a statement like: Put in a time limited back stop – that was very, very quickly quashed.

Stephen:  Okay. Listen, thank you very much indeed. Morning to you all. (ends)

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey The Blindboy Podcast Recorded 6 October 2018 and Published 13 November 2018

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The Blindboy Podcast
Bernadette Devlin-McAliskey
Ulster Hall Belfast
6 October 2018

October 5th 2018 was the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland. To mark this anniversary, Blindboy Boatclub of the Rubber Bandits hosted one of his awesome podcasts at Ulster Hall in Belfast on October 6th 2018. Bernadette Devlin-McAliskey was his guest. The house was sold out. The podcast is over two hours long. The Transcripts will be publishing the entire session with Bernadette – beginning to end. This transcript is Part 4 of 5. In this part Blindboy asks Bernadette to discuss four subjects: 1) The government policy dealing with people who come to Ireland seeking refuge or asylum called ‘Direct Provision’ 2) the rise of the ‘Irish Right’ 3) the UFF (Ulster Freedom Fighters) attempt to assassinate her on 16 January 1981 and 4) Sinn Féin’s attempt to write itself into the Civil Rights Movement.
(begins time stamp ~1:33:51)

Blindboy:   The way you’re kind of speaking about it – it’s kind of drawing parallels with – one thing that young people in Ireland are quite concerned with at the moment is that direct provision will be our Magdalene Laundries.

Bernadette:   Yep.

Blindboy:   And like how do you feel about that? Are looking at direct provision? Are you – ’cause currently you’re working with STEP (South Tyrone Empowerment Programe) organisation which – you work with migrant populations.

Bernadette:  You know, we don’t have direct provision in The North. We have many bad things – we don’t have direct provision. Direct provision, and many of the young people maybe here in The North, because I can’t see you in the dark – not that I call tell southerners from northerners in the daylight. (all laugh)

Blindboy:   (asks the audience) But you know what direct provision is – yeah?

Bernadette: 


Bernadette McAliskey
Photo: Field Day

Yeah. No, direct provision in the south of Ireland is that people who come seeking refuge and seeking political asylum and seeking protection are all housed in what they call ‘direct provision’. So they’re all essentially interned. You know, if you’re looking at the Northern parallel it’s like being interned – in the early days of internment when you’re all put in the one place and hutments and whatever. And the biggest direct provision is in the former Butlin’s Mosney. And people are there for years. And they have so little control. It is a prison. And to describe it as anything other than prison – if it’s not a prison it’s a form of concentration camp…

Blindboy:  …Yeah…

Bernadette:  …You know, it’s in there and thereabouts. People have no control over their own lives. They have no idea when they’re getting out. They have no capacity to earn. They have no real family life and their mental health is then destroyed by that, their self-worth is diminished by it. Having survived the things they survived to reach what they thought was protection they are being slowly tortured, destroyed and being dehumanised by direct provision. Why?

Blindboy:   It’s the Irish government’s attempt to send them away and to not encourage other people to come.

Bernadette:   Exactly. It’s so that other people won’t come. And I’ll tell you this: At the time of the famine, when you look at what the population was in 1845, and it was deciminated and destroyed by famine, there are not enough people on this island. There are room for more people on this island. There’s plenty of room for people here. (applause) We could take another million people and still – a million – you know, not five hundred Syrian refugees and two from here and four from there. The reason we don’t have the resources for a million is that about one percent of the population here have hoarded everything for their greedy, corrupt selves. (applause)

Blindboy:  Yeah.

Bernadette:  But direct provision is our Magdalene Laundry is our – worse even – even worse because it’s being done with the hindsight and knowledge that we now have, that we now have. You know, if there was any excuse – and there’s none – to say that in the ignorance and stupidity of what the clergy believe to be God’s Word caused that in the past we now know that it’s wrong. I mean, the most superstitious clergyman must know, by this stage, that the Magdalene Laundries and things that happened were wrong. So then how do you make an excuse, how does a secular government make an excuse for direct provision? It’s a fundamental breech of human rights that should not be tolerated. (applause)

Blindboy:  Yeah. And one thing I’ll say: Like the fact that when I mentioned it to the room like there was genuinely people here who never heard of it, right?


One of the Direct Provision Centres
This location: Lissywollen, Athlone
Photo: Braca Karic
Source: Wikipedia

It’s like there’s actual internment happening on this island and if you don’t know about it that means the state and the media are doing a brilliant job of hiding it away. So like, make it visible. Do whatever you can. There’s a lot of groups at the moment – what they’re trying to do is help kids in direct provision just have clothing for school and things like that, you know? Find out about your local direct provision group. Try and help through that way and make it an issue. Make it an issue. Even though we’re in The North of Ireland here – learn about it – it’s happening on the same island, you know? No one wants internment, like. (applause)

Bernadette:   Yeah. Right.

Blindboy:  When you said there, Bernadette, that like you know Ireland has got space for more people, which it does, if you said that on the internet like the Irish Right would go fucking ape shit.

Bernadette:  I know. Oh, I know!

Blindboy:  Like how are you feeling about this emergence of the Irish Right or the alt-right or whatever they want to call themselves?

Bernadette:   Well, going back to where we started the conversation and about ‘revolting young people’: When we were young and the civil rights movement here and things were rising we were part of and we were seeking justice in a world that, for a whole lot of different reasons had, at that time, the rise of new liberal, new progressive, new solidarity thinking. And I think what young people need to know now, because I think it’s much more difficult, is that you’re working for justice against the rise of the right…

Blindboy:  …Yeah…

Bernadette:   And that’s happening the world over. I think we’re looking at, I think the period that you might want, you know, that’s most similar to, is that period from the ’28 crash, the Wall Street crash, right through to the ’30’s and the rise of fascism, not so much in Germany – it was rising everywhere – but the rise of fascism in Spain first because if we had finished it in Spain before it took hold everywhere else we’d have done the world a favour. But we’re looking at – and when we were young like we used to think everybody over the age of twenty-five was fascists…

Blindboy:  …That hasn’t changed!…

Bernadette:  … just a word that you used. But fascism is real and it’s raising it’s head again everywhere. And it’s more important, then, that young people speak out – and I don’t mean just young people – but you are the leadership of today and tomorrow. People like myself are old people who got wise very painfully and have some of that wisdom to share but the future’s not mine. The future belongs to you. I’m biding my time here ’til I pay for my sins – Ha! – no chance! No chance! (applause) But I think the rise of the right – and we’re it, we’re seeing it in – seeing the manipulation of ignorance and fear and unmet expectations. You know, there’s a world out there that’s being shown to people through the media and people are being asked to look like this and own this and have this and be this – and you can’t. Not because there’s anything wrong with you. All that imagery is about flogging you shit so that they can make money. And then they keep the money and you stay even poorer ’cause you just bought all their shit. (applause) But there’s no work. There’s no money.


Bernadette Speaks!
West Against Racism Network

And then, because ‘the dream’ can’t be lived, it’s the other person’s fault – it’s the black person’s fault, it’s the gay person’s fault, it’s the foreign person’s fault, it’s the person on benefits fault, it’s the person with mental health problems fault – it’s anybody-that-isn’t-you’s fault. And so you’re being twisted and turned against everybody else and your fear and your anger is being diverted towards other people and that’s happening. You know things don’t happen across the entire world at the same time by accident. That’s happening ’cause somebody’s feeding it and ideas are feeding it. And it’s not, you know, it’s not – you know, you see the stereotypes. You know the boy in the boots that hasn’t got his grammar right, that’s putting graffiti on the wall and breaking people’s windies – it’s not him. He’s the consequence of it. Not the cause of it. It’s the suited and booted up here who are feeding it because it’s keeping them up there while people here are turned against each other. And so you need to stop it. And you need to find ways of supporting each other to stop it. So when somebody thinks it’s funny to make misogynist remarks about women in your company and they’re your friend you have to say: You know, that’s not good enough. You have to stop it. Everywhere you see it – you have to stop it. (applause)

Blindboy:   When we were backstage I was asking you about, we were discussing the nature of trauma and I was asking would it be okay if I asked you about the time you had an assassination attempt. And you said: Yes, that would be okay.

Bernadette:  Uh-huh. Yep. That’s okay. That’s okay. Yeah.

Blindboy:   Can we talk about that?

Bernadette:  Yes, we can talk about that.

Blindboy:  So – what was it like being shot nine times?

Bernadette:  It was interesting. It was interesting. And it’s funny that I can talk about that much more easily than I can talk about that memory, you know, that memory of Bloody Sunday is more traumatic for me than the time that I was shot. And I think it was because, you know, as we were saying, it’s because I didn’t see Bloody Sunday coming. I didn’t see the 5th of October coming.

Source: CAIN

But by the time people came to our house and kicked the door in and held my two daughters, one at that time four and the other nine, at gunpoint while their parents were shot I knew they were coming, if you know what I mean?

Source: CAIN

I didn’t know they were coming then. But Miriam Daly had been shot. John Turnley had been shot. Noel (Lyttle) and Ronnie Bunting had been shot. And we knew that the penalty for defending the rights of prisoners, the human rights of prisoners, was putting civil rights and human rights campaigners in the firing line and we kept on doing it and that’s why I was saying to you the question is nearly not: What did it feel like to be shot? But was: Since you knew at some point the penalty for doing this was that we were going to be shot. And John McMichael went on television and said we would be shot.

So when the people came to our door it was, for us, a day that was always coming and because you understood the context of what was happening I think, for us, the trauma was somewhat less – I mean the emotional trauma afterwards not the physical trauma of it – than for people who got caught up in a bomb or something and didn’t know what was going to happen to them. But what it was I was shot nine times.

And again, the real point of this is: The UDA (Ulster Defence Association) just didn’t decide to come to our house. It was part of a campaign that they had been involved in. The British Army and the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) knew they were coming, on the day they were coming and the time they were coming. And they let that happen. They let that go ahead. And after we were shot and left to die on the floor of our own house and our children there the soldiers that I spoke to going home, going into my house that night – and I know why I was shot:  The hunger strike had ended after Christmas, the whatever deal was not done – and that’s a whole new story – but it was clear that within the prison itself Bobby Sands and others were unhappy with what had happened – this deal that was supposed to be done didn’t materialise and that there was going to be another hunger strike. And I, in fact, was coming from an H-Block meeting that was discussing this problem and fear and what we would do if it happened. And I almost knew that it was going to be my turn to be shot because I was the PR and I was good at what I was doing so the key person to take out of the equation before the next hunger strike started had to be me. And we were taking precautions at home because of that.

But when I came home from that meeting, and I live in the country, pulled my wee car up very close to the wall because it was a frosty night, I could see the soldiers and I spoke to them and I said: Have you no homes of your own to go to? That’s what I said to them. Have you no homes of your own to go to – lying out there outside decent people’s houses? And I can still see their wee eyes peeping up at me and their camouflaged faces but nobody spoke. And I went in, and you know it was about one o’clock in the morning, really cold night and I said to Michael: Soldiers are lying outside our house. Now we lived in, we live in the bog, we lived in the moss, it was up a long lane and an isolated place. And then I got into bed and went to sleep. And the next morning – and there are things, you know, there’s a touch of terrible humour in the midst of tragedies, but when we look back on it sometimes we have to laugh at the chaotic nature of it – but Michael heard the car coming and pulling up right behind mine and he looked out the window and he saw the three men getting out of the car and coming round the front of the house and one of them had the sledgehammer. So he’s shouting at me to get up, get up – they’re outside the house. I don’t like being wakened and I’m not really good at this and I’m saying: I know! (You know what it’s like?) I told you that last night! ‘Cause I thought he was talking about the soldiers. Because he was saying: Get up! Get up! They’re outside the house! He was talking about those men but I thought he was talking about the soldiers I saw.

So what really woke me up was the sound of the sledgehammer hitting the front door which bounced the door open and the first gunshots were fired then through the hall door at Michael who was trying to hold it shut and then they came – Smallwoods stood and held my two daughters, Róisín and Deirdre, in their bed at gunpoint. Róisín was the older of the two. She got the younger one into her bed with her and covered her head up so that she couldn’t see what was happening and she kept, I remember her saying in her statement, she kept watching the gunman so – the funny thing I did that myself, that kind of belief that if you’re looking the people in the face they’re not going to do anything to you – and then Smallwoods was doing that and watching them. Graham – it was like a firm of solicitors when you heard of them in the court: Watson, Smallwoods and Graham – they came on in and Michael tried to draw them into the kitchen and he was shot there. And then Watson came into the bedroom and I had just lifted Fintan, who was the youngest, and I realised when I lifted him:
If I’m shot he’ll be shot, too.

So then I had to throw him – he was only a toddler, he wasn’t two – and it was just as I threw the child away that Watson came in very close behind me and I think he was startled by the fact that I was standing up with my back to him so close to him because he fired straightaway – and I can still remember in slow-motion each place I was hit and how I fell back. And not that it’s a comfort to people but, you know, and I’ve told people who have had relatives killed and whatever little comfort that is that I was totally aware of the impact of being hit and I could smell the gunfire, I had a very strong sense of smell and vision – I could see the blue light of the flashes of the gun and I knew I was being hit – but I couldn’t feel the pain. And I didn’t feel any pain until I was actually being trundled across on a trolley from the helicopter to the military hospital and that was about, must have been about a good hour later. But while we were lying, they shot us and they walked – now they were roaring and shouting when they put the door in and came into the house – but they walked out casually like you’d walk out of a pub. And just when they walked out I heard the English voices saying: Put your hands against the wall. And at that minute I thought it was the soldiers who killed us. I’m still thinking, I saw these soldiers and I thought that a neighbour had heard the shooting and come over and I was waiting to hear more shots to hear the neighbour being killed. But I heard a gun drop and I knew a gun had been dropped on the bonnet of my car and a voice said:
Fuck this for a double-cross!

Now I believe that that voice was Andrew Watson’s. That’s that who said that. So the Army arrested people who did not expect to be arrested. And then the guys came in and they were Paratroopers and they ran away again, and they put up a flare and Argyll and Southern Highlanders came and administered first aid and then Hew Pike, the Chief of the Paras (Parachute Regiment), gave a press conference on our front street and we – you know, Hew Pike, head of the Paras, never went to give a press conference for anybody else that was shot in Northern Ireland – and Michael and myself were taken to Musgrave Military Hospital and we remain the only two non-combatants who weren’t British soldiers in the whole of The Troubles to have been taken directly to the military hospital. And the reason for that was because we didn’t die – and nobody knew what we knew or what anybody else knew – or what had happened and, much like Bloody Sunday, until the Army got its story straight everybody had to be controlled.

And we’re still looking for the truth of who ‘up there’ – you know, never mind Watson, Smallwoods and Graham were found guilty, pleaded guilty, and did their stint – but the real culprits, the same as Bloody Sunday, the same as the people who ran special agents, were ‘whoever’ – in British military and British politics and British Intelligence – were playing poker with the lives of people in this country for forty years.


Bernadette
Memorial Speech
Belfast 13 Oct 2002

For forty years it looks like British Intelligence were running the Provos (Provisional IRA), were running the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force), were running the UDA. I remember a wise man once said to me: Every time you see, you know, you’re looking at the armed organisations, there’ll be one working for the CIA, there’ll be one working for the Brits, there’ll be one working for Free State Intelligence, there’ll be one carrying on for himself and the fifth one’s in the coffin that they’re carrying. And it’s sad but when you look back and see what’s now coming out of what the government, the government who’s supposed to be responsible for the safety of all its citizens equally, whether it likes them or not, was paying people to join unlawful organisations, was letting those people plan and get away with murder. There are victims who can’t get justice because national security doesn’t allow us to know that the people involved in the killing of them were paid by the government. You know, where – where do you start to find the truth about all of that? And yet, until we do and until we see justice done – there’ll be no peace, there’ll be, you know – we’re managing the absence of war but there’ll never be progress until we are able to hold the government to account for whatever it thought it was doing here because it left four thousand people dead. (applause)

Blindboy:   That’s heavy stuff, Bernadette.

Bernadette:  Yeah.

Blindboy:  Fucking hell!

Bernadette:   The morale is, you see, when they say: Well, I have a good idea – let’s form an army! Say: No, thank you! Let’s just, let’s keep, as (Eamonn) McCann says, the sound of marching feet. Let’s keep our feet on the street and we’ll get where we’re going. (applause)

Female Audience Member:  (shouts out to Bernadette) Please run for Parliament! Please!

Bernadette:  Pardon?

Blindboy:  ‘Run for Parliament’, she says.

Bernadette:  And if anybody suggests you should run for Parliament I’d cut that short – just run! (applause)

Blindboy:  Do you feel that Sinn Féin have written themselves into the civil rights movement?

Bernadette:  Well, I have to say they made a good effort.

Blindboy:  Gerry Adams is in the back wearing a hat.

Bernadette:   It’s interesting.

Blindboy:  He is!

Bernadette:  I’ll tell you and I’ve said before: The Civil Rights Movement was started as a broad-based movement. As a child, I wasn’t really, but as a young person – I didn’t start it. I tried to say that to Lord Scarman and that’s when he said the bit about The Troubles – I didn’t start it. But those who would now claim bragging rights for it would want to reflect more on where it all went wrong and how much we still have to do than to be trying to position themselves as the leaders of something many of those claiming leadership of were in nappies when it was happening – because it wasn’t them. They didn’t exist. Did the Republican Movement exist?  Yes, it did.  Most of them weren’t in it.

Some of them were and those who then went on to be the present Sinn Féin and the Provisional Republican Movement were the people who walked away and started a whole new ballgame because they didn’t like the Republican Movement’s policy of civil rights and democratising Ulster. And that’s where you got the Officials and the ‘Stickies’ (Official IRA).

By Stephen Walker
BBC News NI Political Correspondent

And there’s a wee bit of irony about the powerful Sinn Féin now that came out of the Provisional Republican Movement claiming the legacy of the organisation they left because they didn’t like what it was doing. But, you see when you get – see when you lose the run of yourself – anything’s possible. And Sinn Féin is losing the run of itself.
(ends time stamp ~ 2:04:12)