Vice-President Provisional Sinn Fein
Mrs Maire Drumm was a vice-president of Provisional Sinn Fein (1972-76). She was shot dead while a patient in the Mater Hospital, Belfast, on March 28, 1976.
This interview was made on May 26, 1974, at Mrs M. Drumm’s home in West Belfast during the Loyalist UWC Strike.
–What do you think of the strike organised by the loyalist people?
“It’s not organised by the loyalist workers but by people like W. Craig and Ian Paisley and their factions. It’s not the work of the workers. They have been intimidated into it and, of course, the loyalist paramilitary organisations are completely involved in it. They have been hi-jacking and supplying their own areas. They have been able to take over the place completely so that the talk of the British Army being here as a force or as ‘protectors of the catholic minority ‘ is ludicrous after this week. Because the British Army stood by and watched them stealing milk and selling it twice the normal price.
And then you had people like Community Relations Representatives coming on TV and thanking the UDA for seeing that food reached their areas. You couldn’t call them a revolutionary group because I would consider a revolutionary group, somebody who would go to benefit people and my idea of revolutionaries are people who are trying to free their country or free their people…
They have been able to do exactly what they like and the British soldiers made no attempt to stop them. ..I think they consider these people as their friends. Now they are opposed to Sunningdale. We are opposed to Sunningdale but for two opposite reasons : they think that it’s going to break the connection with England and bring a United Ireland. We consider the Sunningdale Agreement and the Council of Ireland are a thing which will, for ever, cement the Union with Britain and we want that ended because we want to break the connection with England.”
–Do you think this is a “coup d’état” by the Loyalists?
“I wouldn’t say that. They have never yet stood up very much to fighting when they come into confrontation with the British Army. I often say, they are good trade-unionists because they stop at quitting time ! No, it’s not a military coup, it’s a sort of bully-boy tactics.”
–What do you think of the Prime Minister’s speech last night?(1)
“That’s just a lot of balderdash ! A lot of hot air ! He didn’t say what he’ll do!”
–Why do you think the Provisional IRA has calmed down its campaign for the last two weeks?
“I can only speak for the political wing of the Republican movement, I cannot speak for the military wing which is the IRA, and I’m not a member of the IRA. (2) My own personal opinion is that they feel that our own people are harassed enough and if they woud carry out any operation, the British Army would be saturating our areas and beating up our people and letting the loyalist group steal away with it. The Republican Army is for defending the people and for its welfare, and it’s no use bringing more trouble on them. And the Brits would use it as a good excuse to take the heat off the other people. They have no excuse now, so why are they not dealing with them? “
–There are a lot of rumours about Direct Rule coming back with the inevitable end of the NI Executive. Do you think it will happen?
“As a Republican – a life-long Republican because I never joined the Republican movement, I was born into it! – anything which is administered by Britain, to me, is wrong. Any British imposed solution is wrong! I believe, as all Republicans do, that the Irish people, Loyalist and Republicans, Catholics, Protestants, whatever you like, are the only people who can decide what is best for the Irish nation. The only good turn that Britain can do us would be to pack up and get home and stay there ! We have had them for 800 years and we want to get rid of them! “
–So it means that, although the NI Secretary of State, Merlyn Rees, has legalised Sinn Fein in Ulster, you don’t want to sit at a table and negociate, say, for a new NI Executive including Sinn Fein?(3)
“Sinn Fein would never accept any form of government that had a link with Britain. And as regards the legalising of Sinn Fein, that was a legality that was as empty as the paper it was written upon, because since that Merlyn Rees has interned numerous Sinn Fein members…”
–Would you like to see a change of government in Dublin?
“I wouldn’t ask the loyalist people of the North to come under the sort of fascist regime that is in the South. I would want a government in which our people participate but it is certain that I wouldn’t want them to go under a sort of government I wouldn’t go under myself.”
–In case of election you would have candidates in the South and….
“If it was for an Irish Parliament! For we could never sit in a British Assembly!”
1 Harold Wilson’s famous ‘spongers’ speech.
2 The IRA being forbidden in the North as in the South of Ireland, Sinn Fein members pay great attention to state they are not members of such organisation.
3 The ban on Sinn Fein and the UVF was lifted on April 4, 1974 in a speech by the NI Secretary of State, M. Rees, in the House of Commons.
– Gerry Adams : The Politics of Irish Freedom, Dingle, Brandon Books, 1986.
– M. Collins ed. : Ireland after Britain, London, Pluto Press, 1985.