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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 7, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta Wednesday, March 7, 1973 THE LETHBRIDGE HIRAID 33 ULSTER'S CHILDREN: HARDENED, BITTER, EMOTIONLESS, DISTURBED 'OLD MEN AND WOMEN' By KEVIN'DOVLE BELFAST (CP) A dis- traught schoolmaster faces a 16-year-old student across the office of a Roman Catholic boys' school in Belfast's Lower Falls Road. "Garry, I wish I didn't have to say this. But you should pre- pare yourself for the worst." Garry OJBrien's tired, re- si gned expression doesn't change. His listless eyes shift uneasily and he shuffles ner- vously. "Your father and brother are dead. Shot. There was some trouble on Crumlin Road. 1 don't know many details. I could get you a priest if you'd like to talk Garry shrugs. "Can I go now, Dealing with tragedies like this has become a fairly routine task in the last four years for Desmond Murphy, principal of St. Peters school, located in an area which has seen the worst of Ulster's violence. In that time, says Murphy, he lias watched, helpless, as the children of Northern Ireland have been transformed into hardened, bitter, disturbed and emotionless "old men and women." HURT BEYOND FEELING "It used to be a terrible trial for me to have to fell one ot the boys of a death in the family. Since 1969, though, it's come to the point where even the worst imaginable disasters make little impression and within a few days they seem to be forgot- ten." "Our children live with in- tensive warfare. They've never enjoyed the innocence of child- hood. They havo been hurt be- yond feeling anymore." Two high rifles cracked in the distance as Mur- phy talked. "If you could draw a semi- circle stretching 100 yards in front of my school door, you could safely estimate that at least 20 people have died in that small area since I960, I guess murder becomes acceptable, in a way." In some ways, Murphy's school is better off than most. Discipline has remained mainly to his own commanding and performance levels have not suffered too badly, although attendance has plummeted. This is far from true in the Ben Barnes' Summerdale boys' in the Protestant Shank- ill Road district. His students, 1'ke those of Murphy, are be- tween 11 and 18 years old. But unlike Muroliy, Barnes has a serious staff shorfaee. TEACHERS THREATENED On their way to school, Sum- merdale students have to walk down the same street as boys attending a nearby Catholic in- stitution. The result is full- scale daily battle with stones, broken bottles, knives and, on at least a dozen occasions, guns. British troops line the street in the morning and evening to keep the warring students apart. They are never more than partially successful. Po- lice, armed with sub-machine- guns, are stoned, spat on and cursed for their efforts at paci- fication. In the classrooms at Summer- dale, the problems are acute and are aggravated by the in- experience of many teachers. "We now have a situation where a teacher may try to dis- cipline a boy only to be told by the boy that he will have him beaten up or worse that very night if he takes any action. "Sometimes, of course, this la and idle threat. 'But make no mistake, it is often quite real. The boy concerned may well belong to an extremist group which would love to get its own back by "doing1 a teacher in one way or another." AUTHORITY DEFIED Barnes said that last year senior students who served as in- timidated, beaten up, robbed and humiliated by various gangs. This year, 'the prefect system was discontinued. "Tlie children in first form this year are worse by a mile than anything I have seen since the school opened nine years ago." Barnes believes that the breakdown in school discipline, which is found throughout the educational system, with a few exceptions such as St. Peter's, is the direct result in the break- down of law and order in Ul- ster. "There's a general lack of re- spect for authority', for the po- lice, for the family and for teachers. Youngsters see that their parents simply disregard laws they don't like, shoot the people they hate and then defy the authorities to do anything about it. The kids adopt all the same tendencies and exagger- ate them." Among other effects of-the continuing violence on children, teachers say, is a kind of men- tal and emotional torpor that surrounds those who have been profoundly hurt by a tragedy. EMOTIONS PARALYSED One 14-year-old girl, for ex- ample, whose family asked that her name not be used, showed no reaction whatever as her mother described the castra-. tion, mutilation and stabing death of the child's brother. Asked by a reporter about her feelings toward the people who had killed her brother, the little "Since then, the tears just Only when the conversation switched to an arithmetic prob- lem she was working on did tha child show any hint ot response. Her family said she had cried for weeks without stopping after her brother's death in Decem- ber. "Since then, the tears ]ao won't her mother added. "I used to be able to talk to the said Barnes, "and help to shape their atti- tudes and outlook. Now, their ideas are absolutely crystalized before they are 10 years old. Its a lost generation." Absenteeism has reached high levels in some schools, teachers say, and is becoming worse. But it is virtually impossible to punish a child for staying away, they explain, when the reason for his absence is often that his neighborhod was bombed or invaded the'night before. FEAR BREEDS GANGS Barnes said he makes fairly extensive use of corporal pun- ishment for breaches of dis- cipline. Vi rtually all after-school sports and recreational facil- ities have been closed because of the need to get children back to their home areas, or before dark and while the troops can provide some protection. This has had two major ef- fects, says Robert Mcllroy, wel- fare director with the Belfast board of education. For the mi- nority of highly-Intelligent stu- dents, it has meant they devote more time to study in the eve- nings because they cannot go outside. But for the majority, it means they have more time on their hands to get involved in the ri- oting and terrorism which sur- rounds them. As a self-protec- tive .mechanism, youngsters have begun forming tightly-knit gangs, creating a kind of "per- petually-warring says Mcllroy. CHARACTER WEAKENED Murphy says he knows many of his students are hardened street fighters. But he argues that for many of the boys, school provides the one haven of peace and order in their lives and thai as long as they believe this order is just, they tend to accept it. "But when I talk to the I make it a policy to grant every request for a chat treat them as adults in the full sense of the word. We're friends now in a way that was never true before. But it hasn't been worth the He says there is also a kind of weakness which has devel- oped in the "Catholic charac- ter" over the years and this has its worst effects on the children. "It is a fact that the best jobs always went to Protestants and were refused to Catholics. But It is also a fact that Catholics fa the past tended to accept this. They begin to regard unemploy- ment as an acceptable condi- tion. "This then led children to re- gard school as a useless pas- time since there would be no jobs at the end, anyway. Now most of the factories have been blown up, making jobs even fewer and intensifying this de- structive, vicious Murphy believes that if tha violence in Ulster could some- how be slopped, teen-agers might yet learn to live together, however uneasily. FRIENDS MUST PART He says that for the last couple of years small projects have taken place, bringing to- gether Catholic and Protestant youngsters in a single group for holidays abroad, mainly in Eng- land. "As soon as they leave Ire- land's shore, they begin to de- velop friendships across the sectarian, divide and these grow and mature for the length of the holiday. "Bui as soon as the boat touches Belfast dock on the re- turn journey, the friendships cease. After all, it wouldn't be sate for a youngster to be friendly with someone from the ofher side." He'd be disowned or punished by his own community. Normal Temperature Vancouver 4- Edmonton Regina Winnipeg Toronto Ottawa Montreal Halifax St. John's Temoerature Normal Precipitation Vancouver 3.8 Edmonton 0.8 Winnipeg Toronto Ottawa Montreal Halifax St. John'i Near normal and above normal temperature read- ings are expected to cover most of the counlry for March, according to the 30-day weather out-look of the United States Weahfer Bureau. Precipitation Is expected fo be moderate, with heavy in British Columbia and portions of Quebec. This isn ot a specific forecast and changes may occur. Has East relatives? By MITSUO K1MURA TOKYO (AP) How so? Family of Godfather has hon- orable Japanese branch? Not exactly, but the Japa- nese national police are con- cerned enough about organ- ized crime to have launched Operation Crush and Cleaning against mobsters al work in this land of law and order. Police say the estimated Japanese gangsters run gambling and loan s h a r k i ng operations, drug tr a f f i c k i n g and business shakedowns. They are trying to infiltrate legitimate busi- ness They are well bankrolled for the expansion. Kazuo Hira- hayashi, superintendent of the National Police Agency, said authorities confiscated about million in raids on gam- bling dives alone last year. Like many other things, crime is different in Japan. Although there are burglaries and an occasional killing or kidnapping, the streets of Tokyo and other major cities are generally safe at night. But po'ice have become wrried sboi't a merger be- tween the Japanese under- world's lop Iwo gangs and their moves toward muscling into above-board businesses. SEEKS CONTROL Hirabaya'sht said the nerper of the Yamaeuchi- gfi-.ff from Kohc in rnd the wa-Kai from Tokyo reflects a move by the Yamaguchi- Gumi fo become the "under- world ruler" without a gang war. "We regard this merger as j Yamaguchi-Gumi's major step in Tokyo, where its influ- ence has been he added in an interview. He said more than 30 per cent of nearly gangsters arrested since JB62 came from the Yamaguchi-Gumi. Rival- ries in the Yamaguchi and In- agawa groups led to 37 of 84 gangland fights that left 11 persons dead last year, added. Hirabayashi doesn't see the merger as an end to struggle for power between the gangs and their factions. "As long as Yamaguchi- Gumi sticks to its ambition there will be he said. TRY NEW LINE Meanwhile the thugs have invented a new criminal line blackmailing. Hirabayashi said it usually begins when gang members gain information about inap- propriate accounting in a company's financial affairs or something shady in the pri- vate lives of company offi- cials. Then they demand money under the threat of making such information pub- lic. Police believe "at least 54 companies and 10 city banks" were victims of Ihis type blackmail last year. Today you can take this dinette out of the kitchen and live with it. Would you put a dinette suite in your living area? 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