as marchers defy ban.
FROM A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT IN BELFAST
THE New Year was only three minutes old when the first bomb of 1972 went off in Belfast. More murderous explosions, shootings and arson throughout Ulster since are a grim augury for the immediate future.
Now the civil righters are back on the streets in defiance of the government ban on parades, and the Orangemen threaten to follow suit.
What next? Even Old Moore's Almanac is silent on the future of Ulster. Francis Moore, the current seer. is not prepared to risk his reputation with any forecasts about this distressful country.
Harold Wilson says it is absolutely vital to find an early political solution. For a start he is banking on the success of the inter-party talks representing the Parliaments of Westminster, Stormont and Dublin. But it is proving difficult to get them off the ground.
The main opposition Stormont party, the abstentionist S.D.L.P., don't seem, however, to go all the way with the adage that jaw-jaw is better than war-war. So long as internment lasts they say they will not talk.
This nails the claim by Miss Bernadette Devlin, M.P., that the S.D.L.P. was on the verge of changing its policy and "selling out" the anti-internment campaign.
Mr. Faulkner agrees that internment is an abhorrent measure in any country and fully shares Mr. Maudling's hope that 1972 will mean an end of it. But at present it is a necessary evil and in his view can only end when the terrorist campaign is over.
lbe government ban on parades, which is due to expire on February 8. also faces Mr. Faulkner with another dilemma. Twice the ban has been blatantly broken. On Christmas Day there was a civil rights march from Belfast along the M.I motorway to Long Kesh internment camp. and last Sunday a big civil rights parade was held in West Belfast despite Army reinforcements.
Security chiefs are at present considering whether to renew or rescind the ban. If it were to he renewed for another six months it would cover the traditional July Orange Parades, and there is a danger that Orangemen in their thousands would be up in arms and defy it.
Another possibility is that the ban will be renewed for three months, which would cover Republican Easter parades, but this would only lead to more charges of discrimination against the minority by the Government.
It would be no surprise if the Government decided to scrap the ban altogether, and appraise individual marches on a play-it-by-ear basis.