Page 2, 2nd February 1968

2nd February 1968
Page 2
Page 2, 2nd February 1968 — 'Green Power' to liberate Ulster

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'Green Power' to liberate Ulster

By Kerry Stephenson

"GREEN POWER" has arrived. Like "Black Power" it's an angry response to discrimination, oppression and prejudice.

Through it Irish and English politicians, trade-unionists, writers, students and housewives intend to win freedom for the Catholic minority in Ulster which is said to be in some ways just "as oppressed as the black community of Rhodesia."

The rallying point for "Green Power" is the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster, a pressure group sponsored by 100 Labour M.P.s in Britain, and set up in 1965 with the object of securing a full and impartial enquiry into the administration of government in Northern Ireland and allegations of discrimination in housing and employment.

C.D.U. wants the Wilson Government, either by political pressure or economic sanctions, to end "industrial and religious apartheid" in Ulster.

C.D.U. says it will continue to describe the six counties in "police state" terms until there is "one man, one vote, and the pernicious Special Powers Act —which allows imprisonment without trial or charge—is repealed."

Mr. Austin Currie, the Nationalist M.P. for East Tyrone, told Sunday's meeting of the C.D.U. in London that "frustration and anger" is developing rapidly.

After persevering for 40 years with Unionist rule, Catholics were given promises of help by the Wilson Government only to see,these promises not honoured.

"If something is not done in the immediate future," warned Mr. Currie, "there is real possibility that Northern Ireland politics will move in a more militant direction."

The problem of housing had deteriorated to such a degree that two Catholic families had been forced into taking the law into their own hands by "squatting" in unoccupied Council houses.

According to Miss Betty Sinclair, secretary of the Belfast and District Trades Union Council, the problem of Ulster is essentially economic — not religious.

"What we have ,in Ulster is a form of industrial apartheid. New towns and industrial

development are being sited in the wrong places. They are creating new employment, not more employment.

"Since 1945 £150m. has been spent on 'aid to industry.' It has created 60,000 new jobs in some 230 concerns. But against this, old firms have continued to close and some 70,000 jobs have been lost.

"When Derry people protested against a new Michelin factory not going to their area Mr. Brian Faulkner, the Unionist M.P. dismissed * as 'local jealousies.'

"It is possible," said Miss Sinclair, "that the Unionists hope that in time people will abandon the unemployment blackspots of Derry City, Newry, Strabane, Omagh, Newcastle, Eniskillen, Dungannon, Ballymoney and Armagh, and the problem will be solved in that way.

The Unionists, who have ruled since 1920, are determined to hold on. We cannot accept their policy which denies our people their rights.


"We .cannot accept such a policy because it would put our joint struggle in jeopardy and make the scramble for jobs appear as one having religious connotations, and further divide our working class."

Although the practical prelgramme for "Green Power" hasn't been formulated in detail, the agitation will definitely start at the top.

It will be led in the Commons by Mr. Jerry Fitt, M.P. for Belfast West. Backed by the 100 Labour M.P.s who say they support the aims of C.D.U. Mr. Fitt is ready to ask Parliament to bring pressure on Captain O'Neill, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

The stumbling block is the convention that Westminster does not interfere in affairs which are the competence of the Stormont (the Ulster Parliament).

Mr. Fitt, however, believes, that sufficient pressure can be brought on the Parliamentary Labour Party, the Cabidet and the Speaker of the House to alter this convention.

The key to the issue is Section 75 of the`Government of Ireland Act, which says: "Notwithstanding the establishment of the Parliament of Northern

Ireland or anything in this Act, the supreme authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall remain unaffected and undiminished over all persons, matters and things in Ireland and every past thereof."

Through this the Ulster Labour M.P.s could stir up a "constitutional crisis" which could embarrass Mr. Wilson into action.

"Britain grants L117 million aid annually to Northern Ireland. Pressure can he wielded as to how it should be spent," said Mr. Currie.

At Sunday's meeting delegates were called on to exercise their "Green Power" through the ballot box Dr. David Pitt, the West Indian civil rights leader, who chaired the conference,claimed that agitation at the local level would produce results.

"There is Irish influence in this country," he told the 80 delegates present. "Use it. Tell your M.P.s if they want your vote, they must act in your interests.

"If you set out deliberately and cold-bloodedly to get your rights I have no doubt you will achieve them. Perhaps you may one day have a radical government in the Stormont that would bring about a united Ireland."

Will militant action by the C.D.U. alienate public' opinion and push the "more liberal" supporters of Captain O'Neill towards the Rev. Ian Paisley?

No, said the C.D.U. supporters. Since coming to power, Captain O'Neill has been just as big a disappointment as Mr. Wilson.

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