Page 4, 30th April 1954

30th April 1954
Page 4
Page 4, 30th April 1954 — DOUGLAS HYDE'S COLUMN

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Locations: London, Rome, Oxford


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A Colleen At TV° rk AGOOD Irish colleen has joined the fight to counter Communist activities with positive action.

For years there has been a steady trickle of Irish actors and actresses into Communism as a result of the activities of London's Unity Theatre,

"Unity" is a Left-wing organisation which took them up when they

were jobless in London, gave them a chance to make a name and launched them on to the West End stage. Grateful for the help they had received, uprooted from the old way of life, and mixing almost exclusively in Communist company, many of them joined the party.

So "Unity" served the cause of Communism in two ways: it helped to turn a number of Catholics into Communists and at the same time increased the party's influence within the acting profession, in the union, and on the stage.

Now, I am happy to report, that particular source of "leakage" is being stopped up very successfully by the Irish Theatre Club, which for 18 months has been putting on shows in London—and doing everything that "Unity" has done in the past, whilst assisting people to keep their Faith instead of drifting out of it.


LAST Sunday morning two Irish Theatre Club members stood outside Westminster Cathedral distributing handbills which announced that "Colleen Hawn" would be put on that night at the Portcullis Theatre, Westminster.

Mrs. Eland, the club's moving spirit, tells me that "Colleen Bawn" —which means, I understand, "The Fair Colleen"—was last produced in London in 1896. George Bernard Shaw loved it.

Sunday night's full house, and the reception the audience gave the show, make Mrs. Eland think that this latest production is going to help the club to take a big leap forward.

So far the plays the club has put on have been of the Scan O'Casey type. "But people are tired of slum kitchen scenes," said Mrs. Eland. "Colleen Bawn" has colour, lovely costumes and is packed with Irish ballads. It will now be taken around London to areas where there are large Irish populations.

The young Irish actors who came to London with neither cash nor contract in their pocket, but just a firm belief in their hearts that given a chance they had the ability to make

the grade on the London stage used

to finish up with Unity Theatre—and, so long as we left it to the Communists, we had no right to complain. Now, almost invariably, sooner or later they tend to reach the Irish Theatre Club instead.

Already a number have got the jobs they wanted as the result of its activities. And, if Mrs. Eland's hopes for "Colleen Bawn" are realised, a good many more are going to get the break they are waiting for after being given a helping hand by their fellowCatholics.


THE 2,400 Catholic children who are in the care of the London County Council will have a good friend in the new vice-chairman of the L.C.C.'s Children's Committee.

For the man elected to this position is, I hear, Councillor John Branagan. former student at the Catholic Workers' College, Oxford, and indefatigable fighter for Catholic rights and social justice.

Those Catholics who are active in public life arc usually very active. Councillor Branagan is a good example of this.

But once when I expressed amazement at the number of responsibilities he was able to shoulder, John modestly brushed it off saying: "That's nothing. Think of what Gerry Long does."

Then he reeled off a long list of offices held by Catholic Councillor Long, which included leader of the Stepney Borough Council, Alder man. Chairman of the Finance Committee. member of the L.C.C., and Various jobs in the teaching profession.

To such people we are all deeply indebted. But the hard fact is that there ought to be many more of them, with the work more equitably spread.

Is it odd ?

AREADER in the civil service calls me to task for saying recently that it is "odd" that Britain, which is still nominally a Christian country should have a non-Christian Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education.

He bases his objection upon the desirability of "an impartial civil service, whose work is totally divorced from the personal opinions of its members." To end this would, he maintains, open up the possibility of discrimination against Catholics. can see that the point that is worrying him is a real one, although it might, perhaps, be easier to defend it if it related to some other Ministry

—say Agriculture or Food.

For surely there is a wider issue at stake. Can one, against the background of the current battle for men's hearts and minds. really be "impartial" about education? Can we as Christians defend such "impartiality" when we hold that the divorce of religion from learning is one of the basic causes of our present troubles?

Outstretched hand

T WROTE in our news columns last lweek of the way in which British Communists at their party's National Congress cheered the Holy Father's warning against the use of weapons of mass destruction. I now have more information about the lengths to which the Italian Communist Party is going in its newly launched "outstretched hand for Catholics" campaign.

Unita, the Communist daily paper, from attacking the Osservatore Romano almost daily has now changed to quoting selected passages from it (out of context, of course) with approval.

Togliatti, the party leader, who for years has been the Church's most bitter enemy, in the course of a report to the Central Committee invited Catholics to join hands with the Communists in the fight against the H-bomb "so that humanity will be saved."

And Sig. Sereni, leader of the Communists' "Partisans of ,Peace," has made a similar invitation to Catholics.

This is a return to the tactic the party pursued in the first year after the war. It was all too successful then, for many Catholics were deceived into thinking that co-operation with Communists was possible,


and before long they were inside the Communist camp.

The fact that the Communists are campaigning on a particular issue should not prevent us from speaking out on it, too, for our own very different reasons. But it is just as well to be prepared for the unasked for and entirely spurious "support" which will be offered by the Communists.

Our Christian protest against the use of horror weapons has nothing to do with theirs. But that is no reason why we should leave them to take the initiative on it in those organisations, such as the trade unions, to which both Catholics and Communists belong.

Rescue 'pending ?

ALLLL those who have enjoyed the Camillo" books must have learned with sorrow that Giovanni Guareschi, their author, is now in gaol. And our sorrow is all the greater because the affair which sent him there was such a lamentable one.

He had published in his paper a forged document purporting to show that Sig. De Gasperi had written to the Allies from the Vatican during the war, asking them to bomb Rome.

One can only hope that his year in gaol will give Guareschi time to ponder the much greater good he is able to achieve through his books than through playing the NeoFascists' game for them in his paper.

And perhaps we dare hope, too, that he will have time to think up for our entertainment and edification new and even better Don Camillo books—provided, of course, that the muscular priest and Peppone, the Communist Mayor. do not once again join forces—this time to rescue their creator from his prison.

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