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Sunday 15 January 2006

No band job too big for Sinn Fein

A BELFAST friend tells me of a glossy bulletin from Sinn Fein's Nolan/Downey Cumann, which my research reveal is named after Volunteers Tony Nolan and Joseph Downey of the 3rd Battalion of the IRA's Belfast Brigade.

These poor devils' lives ended ingloriously in 1971 and 1972 respectively. The 20-year-old Nolan is thought to have been accidentally shot by a colleague as they planned a bank robbery. ("Never had man or women a grander cause, never was a cause more grandly served" was a James Connolly quote on one of Nolan's recent death notices in An Phoblacht.)

The 23-year-old Downey was a new recruit when, on his way home a bit the worst for wear, he chanced on a shoot-out and was hit by an IRA bullet intended for a soldier. (His Connolly quote: "We need not kneel, our cause no dearth, of loyal soldiers' needs and our victorious rallying cry shall be we want the earth.")

So what is being done in their memory? "Need Help or Advice?" asks the bulletin. "Sinn Fein is an activist-based party intent on giving you the best representation possible. If you need advice or have a problem, no matter how big or small, feel free to contact us at our South and East Belfast constituency office."

Irish passport forms, MOT forms and driving licence applications are also available from this office. Truly, no job is too big (Northern Bank) or small (passports, in which they specialise) for Sinn Fein.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

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