Anthony McIntyre
Spring 1995

Last week the Greater Ballymurphy area in Belfast was the scene of an anti-RUC week. The community in general mobilised for the occasion, leaving the RUC in no doubt of their zero popularity ratings in the area.

Since the IRA cease-fire of seven months ago the force of unionist law and orange order, to quote one Ballymurphy resident, has been making forays into the community in a domineering manner. The resident in question, Mr Rooney, once had his son thrown out a window in Springfield Road RUC barrack. Ordered by their bosses to pursue a charm offensive they have behaved with all the sophistication of a blind elephant walking on egg shells.

To launch the week of activity the Greater Ballymurphy Sinn Fein cumann published a leaflet entitled From Cradle to Grave - Nationalists and the RUC, which graphically catalogued a series of atrocities perpetrated against nationalists by this sectarian force. The leaflet was distributed to two thousand houses throughout Ballymurphy, Whiterock, Westrock and Springhill. They were also sent to three local schools and the parish priest.

In addition to this, window posters depicting a RUC member adorned with the orange sash were displayed on many windows in the estate. Streetlights in the area carried mock road signs indicating no entry to the RUC. On the front of the Whiterock Road, local community artist, Gerry Kelly, sketched a colorful wall mural conveying the same message.

The week's activities concluded with a white line picket on the Springfield Road which was very well attended by local residents.

There was a positive response from the local community. Seventy five year old Harriet Kelly, said that her arrival in the world coincided with the setting up of the orange state. She had known little else but RUC repression from her earliest days and she felt as strongly about resisting the force now as she had in her young days. 'I have resisted them every step of the way and it is a great feeling, you know, to have reached the home straight with the knowledge that their days are numbered'.

Ann Stone of Westview, a member of the Ballymurphy Tennants Association, and a community worker for many years commented that it was inspiring to see that the young people of today had not wavered in their commitment to rejecting the force. 'They might sell the charm to those kids who have never lived under their jackboot but not to the youth of these estates.'

Sinn Fein councillor for the Greater Ballymurphy area, Pat McGeown, in paying tribute to the community for its expression of resistance, stated that Ballymurphy had always been at the forefront of the struggle for democratic rights. Its willingness to mobilise time after time had served as a beacon for others groping to find their way through the orange cloud of hate and sectarianism. Councilor McGeown concluded by saying 'with people like this peace is not only a mere prospect but an achievable reality'.



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