Leaders of a Roman Catholic women's peace campaign in Londonderry planned new efforts on Thursday (25 May) to end the bloodshed in Northern Ireland.
SV ZOOM OUT, sign "William Street", PAN ACROSS deserted streets (2 shots)
GV INT. Women with I.R.A. official
CU Johnny White, Official I.R.A. commander in Londonderry
SV PAN FROM women to official
GV Troops stop car at checkpoint (2 shots)
SCU Martin McGuiness, Provisional I.R.A. chief, speaks(SOUND ON FILM)
REPORTER: "Aggro Corner in Londonderry is quiet today. Normally at this time of day, homeward-bound schoolchildren pause to hurl abuse and stones at the army. The army are absent. The children have gone straight home. It's a sign of hope, however small, and encouragement for Mr. Whitelaw, the army and the peace-seekers in Londonderry's Roman Catholic ghettos. The leaders of the peace movement this afternoon met the Londonderry command of the official I.R.A. to discuss their demands and the meeting with Mr. Whitelaw. Present was Johnny White, the Officials' commander in Derry, and the man who gave the order to kill Ranger William Bes, the Londonderry soldier whose murder brought the peace movement out into the open.
No-one is discussing the results of the meeting until the women have met the provisionals. But the fact that it took place has encouraged the ladies. Meanwhile, the army are, within the limits imposed by their security role, playing it in a low key. They're there, but they're determined to avoid any confrontation that might give the I.R.A.'s well-oiled propaganda machine any ammunition. They, as much as anyone else, want peace.
McGUINESS: "The attitude of us, the provisional I.R.A. (INDISTINCT) that we respect the wishes of these people who're involved, in the peace movement, and we will defend their right to speak (INDISTINCT)."
REPORTER: "So you'll listen to what they've got to say to you."
McGUINESS: "Certainly we will, to all kinds, to all classes of people."
REPORTER: "How strong do you think this movement is?"
McGUINESS: "This movement is very strong. Most of our supporters are in it too, but our supporters would like to make it clear that the Provisional I.R.A. will not stop the fight until the three demands that we have put to Mr. Whitelaw are met."
Initials OS/014 OS/024
TELERECORDING original colour on 6929/72 71ft
This film, from the British Broadcasting Corporation, has a reporter's commentary, but we are providing an alternate commentary which editors may wish to use.
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Background: Leaders of a Roman Catholic women's peace campaign in Londonderry planned new efforts on Thursday (25 May) to end the bloodshed in Northern Ireland. The women leaders from the Catholic Bogside and Creggan estates, met the local commander of the Official wing of the outlawed Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.) to brief him on their talks of Wednesday (24 May) with Mr. William Whitelaw, Britain's Minister for Northern Ireland.
The meeting with the Official I.R.A. leader, Mr. Johnny White, took place on a day which was one of the quietest since direct rule from Britain was imposed nine weeks ago. The army's operations were low-key, and little more than static operations, such as checkpoints, were mounted. Mr. White reportedly gave the order too kill William Best, the Roman Catholic British soldier whose murder last weekend brought the peace movement into the open.
Mr. Martin McGuiness, the Londonderry commander of the Provisional wing of the I.R.A., said that while he would listen to the women when they met him, the Provisional I.R.A. wouldn't stop fighting until its demands were met.
Beth wings of the I.R.A. have already rejected the peace overture and it appeared unlikely that the women would succeed in persuading the underground army to call off its assaults on British forces.