28 July 2005

Resentment and fear from working class republicans

::: u.tv :::

THURSDAY 28/07/2005 16:24:00
By:Press Association

Harry McClafferty grimaced as the newsreader announced the IRA was abandoning its armed campaign for good.

All around him a stunned hush fell over Danny Molly`s bar in the republican stronghold of Ardoyne, north Belfast.

Turning from the giant TV screen, Mr McClafferty, 51,
struggled to control his fury and resentment at the Provisionals` statement.

The former hotel maintenance manager declared: "It`s a
bunch of c**p.

"A lot of good men who died would be turning in their graves, just like my stomach is turning over listening to this."

All through the district people who look to the IRA to protect them from loyalist terrorists were gripped by anxiety.

Young mothers and hardened workmen who lived through three decades of sectarian murders all feared they will be left exposed.

"I wouldn`t have given up a single empty shell because this neighbourhood is going to be defenceless," claimed Terry McLarnon, a retired merchant seaman.

The 63-year-old and his pal Tommy Jones had met for a regular pint in Ardoyne`s Gaelic Football Club, situated behind rows of terraced houses from where the IRA recruited hundreds of volunteers.

Inside a sign warned that all Northern Bank notes would be refused due to a flood of forgeries in the area.

The fakes are believed to have been printed on top of cash stolen in the IRA`s £26.5 million heist at the bank`s Belfast HQ in December.

"About £360 was passed at the weekend," a staff member said.

One punter who refused to give his name claimed the Provisionals were attempting to dump the counterfeit cash just like the weapons.

"They are conning their own people," he said.

After arguing to get his money accepted, Mr Jones, an affable and immaculately dressed 65-year-old, spoke of his disillusionment with the entire peace process.

"I`ll be in a box and this will still be going on," he predicted.

Before the Troubles erupted in the late 1960s, he would go out with Protestant workmates straight after finishing their shifts as trolley bus drivers.

Now, however, he won`t even venture into the city centre and gave this verdict of the IRA`s decision: "It`s a bad, bad mistake."

Many refused to openly criticise Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, pinning their faith on the Sinn Fein leaders` strategy.

But they were puzzled and frustrated by the decision to get rid of all the guns when loyalists remain fully armed.
Widower Jimmy McAley, 50, urged republicans to store their huge arsenal rather than destroy them.

"Give all the weapons up and the swines on the other side will come in and wipe us out like they did in `69," he claimed.

Mr McAley, admitted the conflict had left him a bitter and committed republican.

Grinning enigmatically, he added: "But they never got me for membership."

Beside him a 38-year-old woman who only gave her name as Pat was prepared to put more trust in the IRA.

"This will have been done for the people," she said.
Her friend was less convinced, however, as she dreaded a return to the old days of feeling vulnerable.

"I used to put a plank up at my door because I was afraid," the 35-year-old woman said.

"Then the ceasefires happened and everybody got a wee bit more at ease.

"But I`m afraid again because the protection might not be there now."

As the Provisionals went out of business, many suspected the dissident republican terrorists opposed to the peace process would recruit heavily.

A labourer taking in the news during his lunchbreak was outraged by the IRA disarmament but refused to give his name, claiming he would be shot.

"It`s a total disgrace," he insisted.

"We are handing over the whole show and that shite across the road (loyalists) still have theirs.

"The dissidents came after the ceasefire and this will make them even stronger.

"I never thought I`d see this day."

In a portacabin used as a working man`s club one man split from the others and whispered his views in an empty corner.

Revealing arms heavily tattooed with intricate republican designs, he claimed: "This is the Provisionals surrendering."

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