From OONAGH TIMSON in Dublin
Dublin is subdued and the city centre almost empty these days. The shock of so many people killed and injured by the Dublin and Monaghan bombs of May 17 seems to have deepened the innate compassion of most Irish people.
We saw, almost before the debris had settled, the injured and uninjured helping each other, No one fled from the scene. No one turned away. Those people with undamaged cars brought others who needed treatment to the hospitals, and hclim!ci them to their homes.
The Disaster Emergency Plan (formulated in 1969) worked extremely well, Firemen, police, priests and doctors were on the scene within minutes.
But it didn't end there. An appeal for blood donors was broadcast over the radio, Within minutes there were queues at the blood transfusion centres. Another broadcast had to be made within half an hour asking people not to go to the centres as the response had been overwhelming.
A pool of cars was organised to transport people from their homes to hospitals in order to visit their injured relatives, This service is still continuing.
People are looking out for and reporting anything suspicious. Co-operation and respect between police and public is extremely high.
On the other hand, respect for the busmen and their unions is extremely low. At the time of writing the bus strike continues, in spite of the distress and hardship that it brings, particularly now, to the 200,000 people who normally use the buses.
The cause or the strike? The refusal of three of the four unions involved (the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, the Workers' Union of Ireland, and the National Association of Transport Employees) to work new schedules which the national transport company (Corns kmpair Eireann) introduced with its changeover on May 5 last from a six-day, 40-hour week to a five-day, 40-hour week. They maintain that these schedules were subject to separate consideration by the busmen.
The fourth union, the National Busmen's Union, is willing to work them. They hold that the schedules are in accord with the general basis on which five-day working was accepted through a joint ballot by the four unions last November. In fact, the NBU went. back to work for one day, taking out 70 of Dublin's 700 buses.
hey braved the usual abusive calls of "scab" and "blackleg." Dubliners heaved a sigh of relief that the buses were back, but before that sigh could settle property, the three other unions put pickets around all the depots, and that was that. No buses.
In the meantime, the public is settling in quite nicely to a working arrangement between car drivers and former bus passengers. Those wanting lifts stand at bus stops, and drivers pick up whoever is going their way; or take them part or the journey, dropping them off at another bus stop where they wait for the next lift.
The process is repeated until they reach their destinations. In fact you rarely see anyone waiting at a bus stop for long.
Elderly people find it extremely difficult to put up a
thumb thereby showing they would like a lift. They hover between bus stops, and you can't tell by the small fluttering or the hand whether they need a lift. or are waiting to cross the road. You pull up and ask, anyway.
The sudden pulling-in to the kerb after a brief indication may be a bit unnerving for cars coming behind. hut I have yet to hear the annoyed honking of a horn — since the bus strike, that is.
One could get the impression from Irish newspapers that there is a mass exodus of young people from the Catholic Church in .Ireland today; and that those who are left are the passive, unthinking children of church-haunting parents.
Certainly young people are leaving the Church, particularly in city areas. But twice as many stay in the Church, and these are by no means passive.
(Me thousand and fifty 15 to 19-year-olds from all corners of the Dublin diocese set out last Saturday on a mission of penance and prayer for peace at Tara Hill in County Meath, Legend has it that St Patrick lit a huge fire on Tara Hill which was seen all over Ireland and heralded the start of Irish Christianity.
The weekend was the high point of Holy Year celebrations for Youth Together. The Committee of Twenty, headed by Fr John Wall, CC, Ballyfermot, was composed of 17 young people and three priests. The 17 suggested the programme, and organised with meticulous care the multifarious needs of the 1,050 campers, this being the maximum number that Youth Together could cater for.
The assembly point was at Smithfield, in Dublin's Haymarket. They left at 10 am on Saturday morning in 21 hired coaches. The 37 tons of camping equipment and haversacks went by juggernaut lorry straight to Tara Hill. but the young people were set down at Ashbourne, County Meath, and the I 5-mile walk to the foot of Tara started.
After a rest and refreshment, the hill was climbed, and at .10 pm the fire was lit. An informal service of renewal and reconciliation was held with the young people gathered around the fire. Larry Hogan, formerly of the "We Four" folk group, led the singing of modern hymns, some of which he himself had composed.
Scripture reading and more hymns followed, and the tired 1,050 made their way back down the hill to their camp. Many of them went to Confession to the priests who had come along.
Archbishop Ryan of Dublin was the main celebrant at the concelebrated Mass at 9 am the following day, Pentecost Sunday, Packing up of the camp and the trek back to Dublin started on Sunday afternoon. 'I'hey had the next day, Bank Holiday Monday, to recover. This newstyle pilgrimage looks like being the first of many for young Christian people in Ireland today.