A Trip of wonderful memories
or
The things that I saw on Mulberry St.

By Andy Somers

Mary and I were favored by winning the IAUC raffle to Ireland. What a trip! Thank you IAUC.

We got the chance to see and chat with all my friends from yesterday. I met with Tina McGarvey and the Shanaghans from Tyrone. Good old Paddy Devlin was there-- as always. All of us had gone to the Shanaghan inquiry and the European Court of Human Rights as a group of litigants, and remember, we won a unanimous decision from that Court. One more nail in the British coffin. One more victory for The IAUC! Mary, Bill Berardo, Mary and I were there for IAUC. The Court ruled that the UK had violated Patrick Shanaghan's right to life under the European Compact for Human Rights . How many of these hearings have to go on and conclude the same way? The Court found ample evidence of collusion, and the Brits folded their tents and went home. We had about three lawyers arguing for Shanaghan and the Brits had about 12. It didn't help them.

We met Mary Nelis in Derry and then we walked the walls and visited the Derry Free Museum. Martina Anderson came by and made my trip worthwhile. I last saw Martina in Maghaberry Prison. She and her co-inmate Ella O'Dwyer were surrounded by dour faced women guards who watched our every move to see who was going to breakout first. She is now one of the most active people in the North. She is an elected member of the Assembly, and she serves on the Police Board. She is also a star in Sinn Fein, and I was so proud to be there and see all the wonderful changes. She was one of them. At any rate all the bars and the dour faced guards are gone and a smiling, healthy and successful people have filled the scene. The things that we saw on Mulberry (Falls Rd) Street!

In Belfast City (Falls Rd) we met Fr. Des and Noelle. He sent us some good and gentle people from Ballymurphy, survivors of the massacre, to see us. They are still telling their stories and we must continue to repeat their tales. Yell it from high; don't let anyone except the Irish write their history. And let us stop letting the Brits get away with calling it the "troubles". It was a war, pure and simple!

Joe Doherty came by at the Conway Mills. Joe is counseling and helping ex-prisoners. He looks great. I first met him at Metropolitan Correction Centre (jail) in Manhattan He had a great attorney who (pro bono) kept fighting the good fight. Mary Pike, a Jewish lady and a diligent attorney whose actions inspired me to get on board the Irish train. With also a little push and guilt reminder from Paul O Dwyer, I joined on. Joe looks great now. They could not defeat or stop him.

The Mills itself were a surprise; I found it to be a wondrous place to behold - a bubbling hub of activity for vocational and educational activities. They also have a great lunch room, but don't order the Irish breakfast. There is too much food. I couldn't believe the change in the Mill. I was there when it was a rubbished factory in constant harassment by the brits who objected to the Irish trying to do things in Ireland. Thank you Benda Kelly, Pauline, Elsie McGowan, Fr Des and all who kept on working and hoping. They kept turning the wheel and singing the songs. The mill is doing very,very well, but don't forget to send a check to the Conway Mill Trust.

Later we meet with Danny McNamee , who no longer had prison garb and was separated by full front plastic shield He is now wearing button down collars and a striped tie, and enjoying life as a leading solicitor from Newry. Danny just married a beautiful and smart barrister named Eileen about 3 months ago. The British really want them to go away, but as Gerry Adams said, "we haven't gone away, you know."

Danny got his law reading in various English prisons and now the Brits probably wish they never arrested him in the first place. It took 13 years to clear him but with the help of Gareth Peirce and Mike Mansfield and the IAUC's confidence and help, he was cleared of all wrongdoing. One more story to keep on telling...

Martin O'Muilloir met with us to speak of yesterday and today. He looks so active and involved in covering the news of the North. So much news, so much joy. There is no question about whether the war was worth it. There is no doubt about who fought the war and about who won.

We were surprised to find out the Ard Fheis was beginning the next day, and we cancelled our plans to leave and stayed a few extra days in Belfast. We attended the convention, and I got the chance to meet and see all the people I had worked with and loved for over 20 years. Alex Maskey was all over the place. He still looks like Tom Fox. No wonder we did so well over there, everybody looks like our cousin or sibling. And they are all so good looking-- especially without prison garb.

Dessie Ellis was there looking very official. The free state still bears the shame of extraditing Dessie to England. It was the first such extradition and was an act of weakness on the Irish government's part. Can you imagine how shamed the government felt when he returned after an acquittal. Yell these stories to the roof!

Martina Anderson gave some wonderful speeches. The Rev. David Lattimer, a Presbyterian minister, addressed the cheering crowd. Wow-- have things changed. The unionists went wild in anger about the Rev. mingling and speaking to the Fenians. The papers were not friendly. This was the only thing the media commented on. The Ard Fheis was being held for the first time in the North and in Belfast. The walls are crumbling down. The crowd of about 3000 went wild over Gerry Adams and Martin McGinnis. Caitriona Ruane and Caoimhghin O'Caolain were there, happy as larks If you can spell Caoimhghin's name you are Irish, and definitely not affected by the Guinness. I remember when Caoimhghin (Monahan) was the only Sinn Fein Representative in the Irish Dail. Now there are about 16. Oh, the things that we see on Mulberry street!

In addition to all the joys of friendship and memories, I was still able to get a plate of oysters au naturale in Belfast. Life is sweet! Thank you IAUC




Ed. Note: This is a wonderful testament to the power of change and to the spirit of the Irish people, but let us not forget the republican political prisoners such as Marian Price and Gerry McGeough, who are still being treated unfairly, and still sitting in Maghaberry Gaol.

PMS