Magill File: October 1978 - Crime, European Parliament, Linenhall, Loyalists
They lied about Bugsy:
AT one pm, Thursday, August 31, 19 people from the Sean McDermott Street-Summerhill area left Dublin airport for a holiday in Benidorm, Spain, booked through Joe Walsh Tours. Their holiday trip was to trigger the most disgraceful outburst of journalistic gutterrsnipery seen in Dublin for some time.
It began in the Sunday Press on September 3. The headline at the top of the front page read, "DUBLIN BUGSIES FLY TO THE SUN: City Gardai know them - but can't touch them."
The "Bugsies" reference is to the movie "Bugsy Malone," a satire about child gangsters. The unsigned story below said, "Members of a gang which has terrorised Dublin city centre are stunning themmselves in a Mediterranean holiiday resort on their illgotten gains, angry Gardai claimed yesterday. "
One garda allegedly found the affair "really frustraating ... This is bad enough, but when they turn round and practically thumb their noses at us in this way, what can you say?"
Next day both the Irish Independent and the Irish edition of the Daily Mirror led with the story.
The Mirror's front page announced "Police fury as 'untouchables' fly out: BUGSY GANG SUN IT ON THEMED."
The story, written by Liam Kelly with typical Mirror gusto and attention to grammar, began, "A Bugsy Malone gang were (sic) spending their (sic) loot in the sun yesterday. For the miniimobsters who have terrorised the centre of Dublin are thought to be in a Mediiterranean holiday resort."
According to Kelly, "at least 20" of the "miniimobsters" were thought to be sniggering their way to a sunntan.
Kelly quoted the frustrated garda who had poured his heart out to the Press the preevious day, "That is bad enough, but when they turn around and practically thumb their noses at us in this way, it is frustrating."
Even the mildest of Mirror readers must by this time have muttering that something must surely be done. And right on cue, Kelly told them what: "A juvenile detention centre is expected to be open before Christmas. Meanwhile the 'untouchables' are getting away with a catalogue of crime ... The new centre for juveniles is Loughlin (sic) House ... "
The Independent story was written by Liam Ryan who dwelt on "the worsening menace of Dublin's violent 'Bugsie Malone' gangs ... The black market is paying off so well for the Bugsie Malone offenders that 12 of them were recently seen by gardai boardding a plane at Dublin airport for a Mediterranean holiday. "
Apart from the fact that Ryan had failed to spot eight of Kelly's 20-strong gang, the Indo's message matched the Mirror's in every respect. '''We actually saw them getting on the plane but we could do nothing about it, since they are protected by archaic laws governing the under-aged,' another garda explained." The "archaic laws" referred clearly to the absence of a prison to jail the "under-aged," an archaism which Kelly's "Loughlin House" will of course remove.
Ryan displayed his talent, inter alia, for phrase-making in an impactful reference to "The Dublin terror ghetto of Sean McDermott Street .."
Although. by this time the incidence of apoplexy in Foxxrock must have been reaching epidemic proportions, the Evening Press of the same day ploughed remorselessly on. "Larceny kids on Spanish holiday," proclaimed a fronttpage headline. And the same frustrated garda was still expressing his frustration, not striving officiously to vary his words. "When they turn round and practically thumb their noses at us in this way, what can you say?" A week passed ...
ON the morning of Sepptember 9, seven of the 19 holiday-makers returned to Dublin airport. The Evening Press was first with the news, again on page one. "Sunntanned Bugsie boys back in town," announced the headdline nervously. And below, unsigned, "Today one garda officer confirmed their return to the city with the jaundiced comment: 'They're back all right, with great suntans and sporting sombreros ... Maybe they're back to see what pickkings there are for a winter holiday in the Alps.'''
And the story was still getting front-page billing in the Sunday Press next mornning: "Return of the 'Bugsie Malones' ... complete with Spanish suntans and sommbreros ... One officer said yesterday, 'We would have preferred if they had made it a permanent holiday. But maybe they are back to see what pickings there are for a 'winter holiday.'''
The fmal edition of the Sunnday Warid also managed to squeeze in the ominous news of the return of the "Bugsies ... complete with suntans and sombreros."
None of these stories was true.
No group of 20, or 12, "Bugsies" flew to Spain. Of the nineteen people who did, only five were under 17: this is "under-age," eligible for Loughan House, possible "Bugsies." The others were adults.
Of the five under-17s, two have no criminal record. Which leaves three who could meaningfully be called "Bugsy Malones" or "mini-mobsters" or "teenage hoodlums" or any of the other phrases used to describe the group.
The trip was organised by adults in the area. Among those involved in the organisaation were a local priest and a local publican. The publican was among the adults who travelled with the group. The mother of one of the three "Bugsies" was also on the trip. The three "Bugsies" travelled with their parents' consent. The fares of all three were subbsicized by their parents. There was nothing sinister or secretive about their going or coming.
A number of questions arise. Where did the story come from? Who were the anonymous "garda officers" whose curiously-similar quotes were so readily retailed? What steps, if any, did the jourrnalists who wrote the stories take to check the information out?
The answers hardly matter.
The effect of the stories, whether consciously intended or not, was further to inflame newspaper readers against the children of the Sean McDermott Street-S urnmerrhill area. The significance of the tirning-a few weeks before Loughan House is scheduled to open-is obvious.
The three "Bugsies" were among the seven members of the group who came home on September 9, the others following later. For the record, it should be noted that none of this group brought back a sombrero. None of the three has suntan, the natural pallor of a Dublin slum dweller proving resistant to the attentions of the Mediterrranean sun.
The three say they enjoyed the holiday. They stayed in self-catering apartments, supervised by the adults. None was in trouble while away. Only one had ever been out of Ireland before, to Mannchester to see a United match.
Shown a file of press cuttings on their trip and asked to comment they replied, "Fucking shit"; "Bleeding shit"; "All shit."
J. J. O'Molloy
The Crock of Gold at the European Parliament
Is Europe worth it? For the 15 deputies who will be elected as Ireland's representatives to the Euroopean Parliament next summer, it could be worth a good deal of "it," possibly something in the region of £20,000. This looks like being the figure which will be put forward for the approval of the present European parliamentarians, either at Strasburg or Luxembourg in the near future.
The fixing of the [mal salary is a matter for the Council of Ministers. But, in fact, the present European Parliament will play a significant part in arriving at what the salary will be, and could even be connclusive. This is because the Council of Ministers will work on a proposal from the parliaament, and must be unanimous.:
There is very wide disagreeement now between the governnments of the nine, based on the enormous differences in salaries of representatives in the national parliaments (see table). Britain is adamant about keeping the European salary low, and Foreign Secreetary Owen has said that the Europarliamentarians will "not get a penny more than British MPs." Since British MPs are paid even less than Irish ones, though they have better allowances, this parrticular British attitude is not being taken too seriously by the other eight EEC members. But it does imply that the mandatory unanimity is a long way off.
The politics of it all, as far as the present members of the European Parliament are conncerned, is to reach a connvincing and well-rehearsed consensus, justified on grounds of the workload, the travel, the European costliving, and the general stresses and strains of a multiilingual, multi-national set of parliamentary responsibilities. If they can offer up a sound case for a figure that is near to the European national parliaamentary average, they will be in a position to push the Council towards unanimity on that figure, with Britain too isolated to hold out.
On basic salary alone, the crude average works out at £13,802. Since two of the three lowest figures among the nine are Ireland and Luxembourg, representing a tiny population within Europe, the real average involves more commplicated arithmetic. In addiition, the extra payments, which in the case of West German members of the Budenstag can push their salary of £22,700 to well over £35,000 a year, make the likely average figure at which the European Parliament will eventually arrive to be in the region of £20,000.
It is generally accepted, in all European Community salaries, that differentials apply between high-cost countries, like Belgium and West Germany, and low-cost countries like Britain and Ireland. Whether these will be made to apply for parliamentarians will be a matter for the Council of Ministers if and when it reaches unanimity. But, again, the European Parliament will do well to have its sums done on that one.
Magill predicts a figure of £20,000, with the Council of Ministers initially dividing, eight in favour, Britain against, with Britain subbsequently giving way.
United Kingdom £6270 Subventions can amount to
£2534, and a maximum
secretarial allowance of
France £21,000 Little in the way of
subventions, but favourable
loan rates for house
West Germany £22,700 Up to £13,600 additional to
salary for the upkeep of an
office and for secretarial
Holland £19,530 Subventions of between
£2190 and £4380, depending
on area, with further £5850
for secretarial assistance
Italy £10,500 £11 a day subvention
Denmark £11,750 Around £3250 for expenses
Belgium £21,500 Flat figure
Ireland £6273 Use of typing pool,
overnight expenses £8.50 for
rural deputy, £3.50 for
Luxembourg £4500 Secretarial allowance £1300
Tartans come to town - Loyalists at Croke Landsdowne Road
OOOOOOOhhhh, Sammy!! Sammy sammy sammy sammy Mcilroy!!" It has all the potency of a Lambeg drum.
A few miles down from Lurgan, the train is being checked out for Taigs, The plastic Derby hat with an emmblazoned Union Jack bobs in and out of view at the top of the carnage. They are swaying down the aisle, stopping wherrever there is cause for susspicion. Four of them, between sixteen and eighteen years old. Adrape with Red Hand flags, Linfield scarves, blue here, white there, red everywhere.
It's time to develop a totally engrossing relationship with the four-year old in the next seat. Come on, kid, for chrisake laugh at the funny face ...
THE Enterprise Travel Party Express left Belfast Central at ten o'clock on the morning of the Republic versus Northern Ireland match at Landsdowne Road. It took three hundred chantting supporters, many of them on their first excursion "down there." Forty minutes later there were another couple of hundred people waiting to board a second football special. Three busloads had already set out from Sandy Row. Six thousand match tickets had been sold in the North, at least two thousand extra people travelled down on spec. About three hundred of the Northern supporters were hard core loyalists, travelling through enemy territory to create their own temporary West Berlin on the Havelock terraces. Several dozen of them came on the 10040 football special.
There was no doubt that this was an event. UTV reporter Leslie Dawes arrived at the station, ignored the chant that cast doubt on his parentage, and tugged on his cameraman's Sleeve to get a shot of that flag, there. Soldiers and RUC men turned out to keep an eye on the fans. One incredible boy soldier, five foot two, with the face of a fifteen-year old, watched the shifting queue anxiously. His rifle, tucked under his arm, was tilted forward so that it wouldn't scrape off the ground.
Things were quiet on the train. Fathers bringing sons down to the match, groups of friends exchanging newsspapers, wondering should they wait awhile before opening the deck of cards. There was just a ritual cheer from a few as the train passed Linfield football grounds.
Lisburn, Lurgan, and the train is filling with the flags and chants. Portadown, and the RUC men are cradling sub-machine guns and carbines as they see the fans aboard. The caps are off the bottles. The bottles are bounccing off the sleepers.
Pretty soon, the train is being checked .
"Goin' to t'match, then?
Whurr's yer flag? Which team d'ya want to win?"
What Taigs there may be aboard are finding it prudent to join the silent majority for the duration. Three office workers on the other side of the carriage collapse in giggles when the railway vigilantes have passed through. They don't understand the behaviour, but they find "the boys" amusing. A shipyard worker, pouring some lemonade for his Arsenallbadged son, looks up and gives a wry .grin. He's been to Dublin before, he's often been down to Dundalk, he's got no strong feelings about the South. It just happens to be where his national team are playing today.
Things go quiet again. The chants are routine, bottle bouncing becomes boring. The most bizzare incident happens off the train. No one can miss the fact that this is a special train, as the flags wave and cottage dwellers and raillway workers pause to return a thumbs up. Several times the train passes groups of soldiers standing by the line, their faces blackened. Just inside the border, three soldiers stand as the train whizzes past them. One of them has his right arm extended stiffly in the fascist salute. Another is raising his arm. Neither are smiling. A third is grinning and giving the train two fingers.
Once over the border the atmosphere changes;. As the train halts in Dundalk for a couple of min-utes the groups of hard-core loyalists explode. They hang out the window, waving flags, chanting first, and then screaming. A mad cacophony of slogans erupts as if they all must be ejaculated before the train moves off. 1690. No surrender. Pope John is dead and gone. ]fJhn Paul has no balls. The Pope is not a virgin.. Ulster, Ulster, UUVF. UDA all the way, fuck the Pope and the IRA.
The reactions among the other passengers continues to be ambivalent. Raised eyeebrows and giggles.
The chanting continues every time the train slows down near a populated area or passes through a station. When the train arrives at Connolly Station everyone goes to the windows. This time there is opposition. Three youths with a Tricolour return the chants, substituting the Queen for the Pope and switching around the initials of the paramilitaries. At one end of the train the chants and counter chants are ritualistic and almost jovial. But the connfrontation between Tricolour and Union Jack is deadly serious. The Opponents pick out individual enemies and personalise the hatred. Fenian baaaaaastard! Loyalist shiiiiite!
"You comin' up to Belfast, then?"
THE train takes them right to the grounds.
There, the chanting resumes. The loyalists are vastly outtnumbered, but they don't stick together. Waving union jacks, chanting, they march about, watched incredulously by green-draped Dubliners. There are some scuffles and a senior Garda confiscates a flaggpole and mutters into his hand-mike, "They're fighting already." Eventually the loyalists form into a group and chant, "Come and have a go at the Ulster agro." There are no takers. Although the loyalists are very much in a minority the crowd maintains a respecttable distance. Some of the Dubliners are livid and one shouts, "Come on, for fuck sake, yer in yer.own country.' But no one is buying. They may hate the taunts of the loyalists but their dislike is exceeded by a wide-eyed lack of comprehension of the ferocity of the loyalist hatred.
Suddenly, several hundred people come through the raillway crossing at the top of Landsdowne road and a Dubliner turns, sees the preeponderance of green and shouts, "They're republicans! We'll bloody well see now!" But we don't. The crowd comes closer and we see that at its head are four loyalists, waving a Union Jack and chanting. The crowd parts to allow them through to join the loyalist crowd. There is some counter chanting, but most people just stare. Curiosity, distaste, fear, horror.
Everyone seems relieved when the turnstiles open and the rush for the terraces begins.
When the expected happens and the police wades into the . loyalists during half-time there are shouts of "Give them the baton" from a section of Dubliners nearest the loyalist ghetto at the Havelock end.
They get the baton. They expect no less, having come in to enemy territory. But some 'came to a strange city to see a football match. Dave came down on a football special but stayed apart from the chanters. He was surprised that Dublin was little more than two hours from Belfast. This was his first time to make the journey in his twenty eight years. He will come again for a weekend, but this time he wants to keep to himself. It's a strange city and one that hasn't proved too friendly. His train back home leaves in less than an hour after he gets clear of the grounds. Twenty minutes after he found a pub that would open its doors. They don't give you much time, he says, gulping a pint, but maybe that's the idea.
"You comin' up to Belfast, then?" •
Linenhall Library: The Troubles on File
When historians of a future and more peaceful age come to analyse the Northern history of the last decade they will have, thanks to the remarkkable foresight and hard work of librarians at Belfast's Linennhall Library, a unique record of social and political life during the period.
Back in April 1966, when Ian Paisley published the first issue of his thundering Prootestant Telegraph, an astute Jim Vitty , then the Linenhall's Chief Librarian, reckoned there was a whiff of political sulphur in the air and began collecting the newpapers, pamphlets, and handouts of the province's fringe political groups. From 1968 on, the collection has expanded and grown to include publications from virtually every political, para-military, and community group spawned by the troubles. The result of that inspired decision is the most detailed record of political events ever in Irish history, and for Jim Vi tty the gratirude of academics and writers.
The as yet un-named Linennhall collection is housed at the -top of a rickety staircase in the Library's dusty attic and is now being lovingly cared for by 24-year-old John Killen who describes his task of cataloguing the collection as a "librarian's dream."
The Linenhall Library, or as it is properly known, "The Belfast Society and Library for the Promotion of Knowlledge," is the oldest of the city's libraries and takes its name from the original Linennhall, now the site of the present City Hall, a name it kept when it moved in 1898 to its present location in Donegal! square. It was established in 1788 when a group of linen industry philannthropists decided that the Age of Reason, then fermenting in pre-revolutionary France, was long overdue in Ireland.
The Linenhall collection is valuable' because it includes not only the newspapers of groups of all political hues, but also their press releases, speeches, pamphlets, and posters as well as the publicaations of the myriad of small local community organisaations, many of which are already long forgotton.
Despite the obvious diffficulties of collecting the plethora of political literature produced in the last ten years Killen reckons that he has a representative selection of everything published in Ireland and at least one copy of everything printed in Belfast with a complete run of most.
The collection is not open to the public yet. Killen belives it will take from two to three years after it is closed before it is in the sort of shape suitable for the casual researcher. And when will the collection be closed? "Whenever the troubles end - hope~y in the next 20 years" is the rueful answer. However, the accredited academic or writer can gain access and many have. Leon Uris used the colllection to gather background material for Trinity; As well, a selection of the collection from 1968 to 1975 is on microfilm and sells for the surprisingly modest price of £194. It is already a best seller in U.S. and British universities.
Unfortunately, the Linen- ,I, hall is not in the best of financial health. It gets by on a modest government grant but ironically the troubles has taken its toll of subscribers. More money would provide the extra staff and space Killen claims the collection deserves. "If the Linenhall hadn't started this collection, no one else would have done it and it is a crying shame that an archive of such great imporrtance isn't getting more backking from the people with money." There are few who would disagree with him. Without the Linenhall collecction our children and granddchildren would be denied a singular insight into their own history.
Run for your life
THERE was a time when the only people you were likely to see doing it were enthusiasts from the local rugby club. There wasn't even a specific name for the activity. Now, huge numbers of adults of all shapes and sizes are to be seen doing it in public, with no trace of embarrrassment, confident that they are part of one of the great mass-movements of the 70s. The phenomenon of jogging is upon us.
The medical profession appears to be unanimously delighted at this turn of events. Earlier this year, at the Annual Meeting of the Irish Medical Association in Waterrford, the doctors themselves went jogging, thus forcefully proclaiming to all the benefits of healthy activity. No fatallities were reported.
In the United States, there is actually an American Medical Joggers Association, which advocates "the vigorous exercise and tee-totaling lifeestyle of the Olympic marathon runner for everyone." AMJA bases this drastic suggestion on the firmly established fact that immunity to heart disease is correlated with an indiividual's ability to cover long distances on foot. Masai tribesmen and Tarahumara Indians are instanced as groups who can cover 25 miles at a trot, among whom heart disease is totally unknown. Two representatives of AMJA, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Associaation, have suggested that when the full benefits of the daily jog are realized, "society will start thinking in terms of mileage instead of medication, and health will be an individual responsibility, not the product of a health industry."
Of course, not all of us have had the advantages of Masai tribesmen, Tarahumara Indians, or Olympic marathon runners, and there is a very serious side to this exerciseefor-everyone business. An article in The Lancet by a team of South African doctors emphasises that, while exerrcise is generally beneficial and may have a place in the preevention and therapy of certain types of heart disease, it can also prove lethal. If you are over thirty years of age, a smoker, overweight, and have any family history of heart disease, a visit to your doctor is advisable before you invest in a tracksuit.
Even if you pass a medical : inspection, your worries should not end there. By slowwing your resting heart rate, regular jogging may actually prevent your doctor from successfully diagnosing a variety of ills whose chief symptom is tachycardia, an abnormally rapid heart rate. If you haven't exercised seriously for a long time, blisters, bruised toes, torn hamstrings, and strained ligaments are also possibilities with which to be reckoned. Sudden acceleraations to escape from savage dogs or while passing members of the opposite sex may cause arrhythmias and myocardial infarction. Colliisions with skateboarders are also dangerous.
On the positive side, regular jogging does help to strengthen the muscles, valves, and vessels of the heart, as well as promoting the more efficient functioning of the respiratory system. All bodily functions are improved, and all muscles and joints strengthened. To achieve these benefits, a gradual builddup to 30 minutes at an easy pace, three times a week, is the recommended proogramme.
Jogging, of course, requires no specialised training, and very little skill. Running-shoes start at around £6 a pair, and a reasonable tracksuit will set you back about £15.
Jogging with a friend of your own age and physical condition is to be recommmended for a number of reasons. The danger of being mugged is substantially reduced. Should one of you collapse, the other can summon help and administer first aid or the Last Rites. Having someone to talk to can provide much needed moral support on steep hills, passing public houses, or while being ridiculed by gangs of schoollboys. A companion also helps you to monitor your own condition in terms of the basic rule-of-thumb: "If you can't talk, walk."
Finally, a word of consolaation. Should you be stricken with the headstaggers after a few minutes on your first night out, it is' not necessary to resign yourself to a short, unnhealthy life ending in cardiac arrest. The Irish Heart Foundation and the Irish Medical Association are agreed that, while moderate jogging is excellent for those who can manage it, a stiff, daily walk is a lot less demanding, a lot less dangerous, and will do you just as much good.