THE MIXTURE OF apprehension and amusement with which Ireland is looking forward to its first bank strike in fifteen years is effectively tempered by the realisation that it is only symptomatic of the wave of industrial unrest which theatens to submerge the country like Atlantis.
A lot of hard work is being done by all three protagonists— government, unions and employers—to improve the state of affairs, but nobody yet seems to have hit upon a solid foundation for settlement.
The Government's reported plans to strengthen the Labour Court and make its decisions binding in certain cases, some = observers feel, do not go to the heart of the matter. What and where that is, on the other hand, is anyone's guess.
= 1 he best time for settling a strike, of course, Is in the first week. : For this reason and urgent moves are already taking place
behind the scenes—the bank strike about which I am writing may 2 well be resolved by the time this issue of the CATHOLIC HERALD reaches the bookstalls. Be that as it may, big business houses this ; week were making their own arrangements to deal with what promises to be a financial siege of epic proportions.
.1. The amount of loose money floating around the country last weekend was enormous. Quite apart from whatever was normally in circulation last Friday (and a lot of which was presumably
retained to pay this week's wages) a grand total of some £10 mil 1 , lion pounds was withdrawn from the banks concerned before they
F., closed their doors for the last time.
Security arrangements in most business premises have been Fi doubled or trebled in the face of growing rumours that England's cracksmen are arriving at Dun Laoghaire by every boat.
ONE CRACKSMAN who didn't wait broke into Cardinal Conway's house, just behind the Cathedral in Armagh, the other day, and made off hotfoot with some £70 worth of cash, rings, medals and pens. Police were alerted shortly after the robbery was discovered and kept a close check along the border on motorists travelling south.
100 arrests it ONE of the more unusual confrontations of the past fortnight has been that involving the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers' Association, the National Farmers Association, and the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Haughey.
What began as a straightforward tussle between the Minister and the 1CMSA over milk prices developed rapidly into a threecornered fight in which the ICMSA embarked on a trial of strength with the NFA and the Minister for Agriculture stood uneasily by (he postponed a scheduled trip to the United States, in fact) wondering what the outcome would be. 'T• The ICMSA even went as far as to organise a demonstration in front of Leinster House while the Dail was sitting. This brought
its members into trouble with the police, who served them with notices under the offences against the State Act and subsequently .1' arrested and charged them.
As fast as the pickets were removed in a Black Maria, however, replacements arrived and within one period of 48 hours the police had arrested and charged no fewer than 100 members of the Association.
The entire operation was carried out with great humour. Mr. a Haughey, stepping out of his Mercedes, murmured "Good morn
ing, gentlemen" to them as he passed by, and no resistance was E" offered when the Black Maria came back for consignment after
consignment of cheerful but determined farmers.
EVERY NOW and again one is given welcome—if unexpected —evidence that Ireland is in the process of growing up. Evidence of this kind was provided last week by the public reaction (or, to he more accurate, by the lack of public reaction) to a public lecture on the work of a well-known Irish novelist by an equally well-known priest critic.
The novelist is Edna O'Brien, a native of Co. Clam, each of whose four books has been banned by the Censorship of Publications Board in Dublin. The critic, Fr. Peter Connolly, who lectures in English at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, and whose serious and important article on obscenity in a recent issue of the Irish Theological Quarterly discussed Harold Robbins and William Faulkner's work with clarity and insight.
Fr. Connolly spoke to an overflow audience at a meeting organised by Tuairim, the nonpolitical discussion group, in a Limerick hotel. He praised Miss O'Brien's first two books, The Country Girls and The Lonely Girl for their skilful, dramatic, technique, their unselfconscious ribaldry and their genuine insight into the mind of a young girl.
He expressed quite a few reservations about the second two, Girls in their Married Bliss and August is a Wicked Month but did not condemn them out of hand, suggesting that they marked, perhaps, a transitional period in Miss O'Brien's career as a novelist. He was labouring under the disadvantages that Miss O'Brien was sitting in the audience listening to him (he said that this was the first time he had ever been in such a situation), but he delivered his judgments in an unprovocative, serious way.
Five, four, three years ago the matter would not have ended there. Fr. Connolly would have been forced to enter the lists of the newspaper corrospondence columns—at least those of the Irish Times—to defend his views against misrepresentation and uninformed criticism.
There have been a few startled reactions, it is true, but the general quietness with which his remarks have been received point to a far greater maturity of response than we might have been able to expect.
Another reason, of course, may well be that a great many people have managed to lay their hands on copies of the books and find themselves much more in sympathy with Fr. Connolly than with the gray eminences of the Censorship Board. They read them in Limerick, anyway.
MORE THAN 9,600 "luck pennies" have already been thrown into the cruciform pool in the recently-opened Garden of Remembrance in Dublin's Parnell Square, since Easter Monday. In the best civil service traditions, the Office of Public Works—which Is responsible for the maintenance of the pool—is hanging on to the money until the Department of Finance decides what is to be done with it.
ACOMPREHENSIVE REPORT on ecumenism is one of the major features of this week's 96th General Synod of the Church of Ireland. The report, which is being given procedural precedence, "welcomes the many signs of a growing ecumenical awareness in the Roman Catholic Church" and notes that "the schema on ecumenism has encouraged many members of that Church, both clerical and lay, to express their interest in what other churches are thinking and doing."
This report is, to some extent, complemented by a Bill to be submitted to the Synod by the house of bishops. This is designed to alter the constitution of the Church of Ireland to allow cathedrals, churches or chapels of that Church to be used by members of other recognized Christian denominations for their worship, in circumstances which the Church of Ireland bishop concerned thinks are "exceptional".
The Bill is qualified in several ways, but is broadly practical and ecumenical in its outlook. Practical, because "exceptional" circumstances can apparently be held to include cases where one denomination in any particular area has been deprived of its place of worship through fire or any other calamity; ecumenical, because it can also be held to apply to cases where—as in some areas of Belfast—the possibility of erecting new church buildings on an interdenominational basis may arise.
The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Sims, made it quite clear at a press conference just before the weekend that they were thinking of Roman Catholics just as much as of Methodists and Presbyterians, and instanced the concern for their fellow-Christians felt by many members of the Church of Ireland in Dublin when St. Michael's Church, Dun Laoghaire, was burnt down last year.
Under the constitution of the Church of Ireland as it stands at the moment, churches simply may not be "loaned" to members of another denomination for worship, although they may of course be transferred outright (as has happened) when they become redundant. The new Bill sets out to remedy this state of affairs.