COLUMN Why civilians?
WHEN pacifists decide to launch " non-violent disobedience campaigns I suppose they expect to be faced with some degree of violence. This was, apparently, the attitude taken by the leaders of the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War themselves to the rough handling they met with at Swaffharn, Norfolk, last Sunday.
Nonetheless one is left with the feeling that officialdom comes rather badly out of the episode. What in particular worries me is the use of civilian labourers, as opposed to the forces of law and order (who in any case were very much in evidence), against the demonstrators. Still more disturbing, if they are true, are the newspaper reports that many of the labourers concerned were Irish.
To use one section of the civilian population against another in an episode of this nature is bad enough. But to embroil men from another country in a domestic squabble in which they could have no possible interest is surely inexcusable.
It is deplorable, too, that Catholics should be used against members of a movement, many of whose leaders are prominent and very sincere non-Catholic Christians. A black mark for whoever was responsible for this prize piece of irresponsibility.
THE London bus driver who A spends his days nosing his way through an endless stream of motor traffic is very much a man of the 20th century. One thinks of trade guilds as belonging primarily to the Catholic Middle Ages. But the two come together, as I discovered last Friday night, in the Catholic Transport Guild.
In the hall attached to the church of Notre Dame de France, Leicester &pare, were London transport drivers and conductors, clerical workers, and otters, along with one or two members from the managerial grades. There were active members of the Transport and General Workers' Union and one or two very alert shop stewards, too.
The guild has been in existence for some 30 years, and by 1934 had already spread to sufficient large towns in England and Scotland for a Federation of Catholic Transport Guilds to be established. In August, 1953. it joined in the formation of an International Federation of Catholic associations for transport workers. At the present time it is flourishing in Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham. Glasgow, Motherwell, and London. The London membership is just under 400 but could clearly be much larger. Amongst the guild's stated aim is: "To give an opportunity to develop among members a spirit of Catholic fellowship for their mutual benefit and the spread of a true Christian spirit throughout the industry." I came away from a very lively meeting the other night feeling that nothing but good could come from this effort to bring members of the same faith who are working in the same industry together.
CRY from the heart of an Irishman living in Crickle wood, London, struck a responsive call to my own the other day.
"Back home in the middle of the hills of Donegal, my native county," he wrote, "we can hear the Light and Home services of the B.B.C. Why should we not be able to hear Radio Eireann here?
"Surely it's not too much to ask them for a station from which we can at least hear our music and native games. It is not so many miles away and it would be very much appreciated if it could be done."
Not being a sporting type I have never tried to tune into Radio Eireann with the idea of getting the sports results. But there have been plenty of occasions when have tried to get a Mass, or just some alternative to the B.B.C.'s programmes, and have. instead, been able to get nothing more than a whisper.
It seems odd in these days when governments spend millions of pounds on broadcasting programmes to other lands that Radio Eireann is unable to provide a reliable link with home for the hundreds of thousands of Irish exiles in this country. Is there, I wonder, some technical reason for this or is it just a question of £ s. d.?
THE Seventh World Youth Rm
tival, to be held in Vienna from July 26 to August 4, is an event against which all young democrats should be warned. It is a successor to the Moscow Festival of last year and, like all its predecessors. is Communist organised.
These festivals are, in fact, one of the most expensive, but also the most successful, of world Communism's propaganda and proselytising efforts.