It was a miserable morning when I got up and dragged myself out of bed as usual to let the carer in for my mum to get washed and dressed. With it being a Saturday, the carer comes in a little later to allow my mum a wee bit of an extra lie in. Not much mind you, but enough to worry me that I might be rushed to get to the march assembly point for 11:30 assembly and 12:00 march beginning. But she came about 10:30 and I was already waiting and had tea and breakfast organised along with my mum’s medication. This gave me enough time to leave at 10:45 to meet up with friends and comrades at Bellshill cross around 11:10, allowing us just enough time to make it to Coatbridge for assembly. The rain was lashing down one minute and then the next the sun would be splitting the trees, only to start lashing it down again. We didn’t even get the solacement of a rainbow.

When we got near the assembly point on Coats Street, you would hardly think there was a march going to take place at all, much less an Irish Republican one, and arguably now, the main Cairde na hÉireann march on the Scots/Irish Republican Calendar. With the truth having come out now about Bloody Sunday, our focus of attention has shifted to the Ballymurphy Massacre and that has manifested itself in the attendance for this march expected to far outstrip any other. It’s an issue that still, 40 years on, remains unresolved with no closure for the families. The very same regiment mainly responsible for Bloody Sunday, 1st Parachute Regiment of the British Army, are also indicted by the Republican Movement and all fair-minded independent commentators and correspondents of the “troubles”  and peace process in Ireland over the last 46 years. So it’s particularly relevant from a British and International perspective, that this crime against humanity be recorded as such. So as I said, this march has now become the main Scots/Irish Republican march on the calendar but there was hardly any police presence at all. If we didn’t know better, we would think that the march subject to cancellation without us being told. But we did know better and it turned out that the weather, as you will see, had driven the march followers to stay in shelter from the elements until nearer the start of the march. That didn’t explain the lack of Strathclyde’s finest on every street corner and every 25 yards along the streets approaching the assembly point. It was almost surreal going to a Scots/Irish Republican march without being stopped and searched at least twice during the 5 minutes walk to the assembly point and hardly seeing any police presence there at all. All became clear at the end when informed by Jim Slaven that the police had reduced their numbers for policing the march by half and it was clear that the police were adopting a light touch to policing the marchers and followers. It appeared that we were to have our own stewards be allowed to keep order who, unfairly in my opinion, come in for some stick by some of the march participants. No one likes being pushed around by any form of authority, especially Republicans and those of us of the younger generation, but I’d rather be pushed around by one of our own than one of the filth.

A comrade told me that there was a counter demonstration by Loyalist/Fascists but I honestly never seen or heard them. They cannot be seen or heard on any of the videos or pics I took. My comrade tells me that there were only about a dozen of them there and I’ve no reason to disbelieve his figures. I hope they all got home safely and were not attacked by Republicans on the hunt for stragglers. Just like the loyalists did to two, at least, people I know of at the hungers strike commemorative march in Glasgow this year. Luckily the scumbags had the brains to not have weapons on them on that occasion as they would undoubtedly have been searched by the police so they probably decided it was safer to leave their blades at home. The upshot was that around 8-9 Loyalists were unable to inflict much damage of note to two Republican stragglers who had become separated from the march. Let this be a lesson. If you are going to straggle, be ready and split into two groups, close to each other. When one comes under attack, the old trick of bringing in reinforcements close by, and take the bastards by surprise and kick 7 shades of shite out of them. Or wear good running shoes.

Anyway, the march went off peacefully as usual, but on this occasion, there were no complaints about the policing of the march and there were no negatives to report – apart from the weather – but it cleared up after the march began.

We mustn’t forget the reason for this march, the Ballymurphy Massacre when over the period of 3 days, a concerted effort to shock and stun the civilian population with orders from the top, in line with the new internment laws allowing that innocent people be arrested and detained without charge indefinitely, resulted in the murder of 11 innocent people. These included a Parish Priest and a 45-year-old Mother of 8. 1st Para were let loose and encouraged to do this with impunity. This gave them the green light to go ahead and commit the more widely known atrocity known as Bloody Sunday. Had these animals been brought to account for their actions in Ballymurphy, they very well may not have had the green light to commit the atrocity in Derry 5 months later. That’s why this march is of such importance. After 40 years the families are still awaiting justice for their families. Their were 9 representatives of the victim’s families at the march and their presence is greatly appreciated to raise awareness of this crime against humanity. Included in the delegation was the daughter of Joan Connolly (50) Irene Connolly, and she gave a speech at the end of the march it was very emotional for her and it is quite hard to make her out. I’ve tried to boost the sound so she is heard and understood clearly but she gave an excellent and humble but spirited speech. It’s important that the families’ message gets out, everywhere across the Celtic Isles.

Recently trouble has flared after the met police force shot dead a youth in circumstances as yet not confirmed. The riots that have ensued since that death, on Thursday, although  not entirely due to the death itself but to the poor treatment of working class families, whatever race, by this Government. The disorder has left England in a state of shock since the killing of Mark Duggan (29) in Tottenham. This sort of thing happened in the six counties regularly and it just goes to show how restrained the republican movement has been over the years. We were just expected to put up with it, but they don’t put up  with it in England do they?

Enjoy the Video of the march.

Footnote: I forgot to mention that the two republican stragglers I know who were set upon by a gang of Loyalist/Fascists, were helped by protestant clergy or elders, who gave them money to get a taxi to Buchanan Street bus station safely. That is what Christianity is supposed to be about. So all you ignorant orange bastards take note.  The faith you are supposedly marching for every year to celebrate the right to practice, flies in the face of everything the Orange institution stands for. Thanks to the protestant church members for helping my friend out in their time of need.  Be assured that my two friends do not bear anyone ill will on account of their faith. In fact, they are both of different faiths themselves.