A nationalist residential area in Derry city continues to be policed by IRA volunteers but change may be on the horizon.
Checkpoints operated by the IRA in the area monitor those entering and leaving it, but at present questions are starting to be asked about the future of Free Derry.
Many members of the Provisional IRA such as Martin McGuinness seem to be well respected in the community and say that they will work towards peace, but only if certain conditions are met. They want to see the release of all internees; an amnesty for those on the run and serving sentences for their involvement in violence, and the withdrawal of troops from the streets.
The demands from the Official IRA as delivered by spokesman Seamus O'Kane are similar. He tells RTÉ News that,
The main reason for refusing a truce was the presence of armed British troops on the streets.
There is a willingness among the people for change however. Father Denis Bradley of the Bogside Community Association maintains that the overwhelming majority here want peace. However as there is no legitimate police force operating in Free Derry he wonders what the future of policing the area will look like.
I don’t see the RUC as being accepted back into the area ever.
Leading Derry trade unionist Declan McGonigle takes up the call for an amnesty to be granted,
A full amnesty right across the board, stone throwers, the lads with the guns the lot, must be part of the total package deal eventually. This will bring peace.
On the other side are the unionists, who say that they cannot accept this solution. Commander Albert Anderson who was a parliamentary secretary in the last government has lost friends due to the violence in Northern Ireland. He is not in favour of an amnesty.
It makes an absolute farce of law and order anywhere.
Veteran republican Seán Keenan agrees with the demands of the Provisional IRA’.
If these points are met, you’ll have peace tomorrow.
The release of internees continues slowly, but it would appear that the government would struggle with the creation of an amnesty. While there is hope among the people that the future will bring peace, the way ahead is as yet unclear for dissidents, as
For the provisionals and the officials, the acute problem of the moment is to find a political road for themselves.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 8 May 1972. The reporter is Liam Hourican.