• Short Summary

    Violence flared again in Northern Ireland as Republican militants demonstrated on the fifth anniversary of the introduction of detention without trial.

  • Description

    MV: burning trucks and cars (4 shots)

    MV: troops on guard outside Fitt House (2 shots)

    CU: Gerry Fitt speaking

    MV: burned out buses across street, car passing over pavement (2 shots)

    MV: youths overturn truck (2 shots)

    MV: burning overturned truck (2 shots)

    MV: soldiers run across street as youths throw stones

    BELL: "The rioting and hijacking began before dawn on a familiar battleground - the Falls Road-Grosvenor Road intersection. A dozen vehicles were set ablaze. Mosly it seemed as a challenge to the army to come out and do something about it... A challenge which the army chose to decline, letting the disturbances, like the barricades, burn themselves out. More serious was the attack on Mr. Fitt's house - with himself and his family inside it - and the security forces arriving too late to help them from the mob."

    FITT: "My young daughter Geraldine ran in and said "Daddy they're in the hall, they're in the hall." And I grabbed a revolver which I have, an automatic, and I was in my singlet and underpants. And I came out of the bedroom and there were 20 or 30 men blocking the staircase up into my bedroom. The thoughts which I had then were all within the space of a second was: this is the way you die, Gerry, this is it. Second one was I hope they don't kill Ann and Geraldine and my third one was don't pull that trigger for God's sake - don't you kill anyone. But I pointed the gun at them - took the safety catch off it - and said: 'another move and your dead, you will get me, but some of you will be dead, But some of you will be dead....down those stairs, down those stairs'. And one of them said 'he's got a gun, he's got a gun'. And they backed down the stairs in a rather cowardly fashion - I have always regarded them as cowards - it didn't surprise me. They went out onto the street - the door - there was no door. They were out on the street again, mouthing obscenities."

    BELL: "Again, the violence is a challenge not only to the government but also, less directly to the standing, to the SDLP - as champion of the Catholic community. And there is every reason to believe it didn't just happen casually - it was planned. The hi-jackers taking every commercial vehicle in sight with the intention of blocking the Falls Road for a day. Behind the street violence - and really a long way behind it - lay the issue of I.R.A. prisoners. The government is not giving way on this - but on the streets at least it's not provoking a clash either. The Army's policy of containment meant, in this case, keeping out of the way."

    Mr. Fitt is the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, the SDLP, in Northern Ireland. He is also an SDLP MP representing a Belfast constituency in the British Parliament in London. The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) has declared that they oppose SDLP policies on the future of Northern Ireland. They want a total British withdrawal from the province and have declared a "guerrilla campaign" against the security forces until their demands are met. The SDLP,-supported mainly by the Roman Catholic minority in Northern Ireland, opposes the Provisional IRA campaign of violence against the security forces. The SDLP has insisted that any agreement must take account of all the peoples' demands in Northern Ireland - and the party has strongly condemned violence from all quarters of the community - Catholic and Protestant. On Monday, (9 August) Mrs. Marie Drumm, the Vice President of the Provisional Sinn Fein - the political wing of the Provisional IRA - was arrested. The detention followed an outspoken speech by Mrs. Drumm attacking the British Government decision to abolish political prisoner status for I.R.A. prisoners in Ulster. (The ruling also applies to Protestant prisoners). At a rally on Sunday (8 August) she said that Belfast would be taken apart stone by stone unless the British Government accepted Provisional Sinn Fein demands.

    Initials RH/PK/DK/0109


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: Violence flared again in Northern Ireland as Republican militants demonstrated on the fifth anniversary of the introduction of detention without trial. The Republicans were protesting against the British Government's abolition of special prisoner status for new political detainees.

    During the riots a mob stormed the house of Mr. Gerry Fitt, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party. The BBC's Martin Bell reports from Belfast.

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