A new book has been published in 2021 about Divis Flats – part of the Cathedral Parish I served in Belfast from 1978 to 1983.
It is called DIVIS FLATS.
It’s authors are photographer Judah Passow and journalist Robin Livingstone.
It is a series of fascinating photographs from thar era in Belfast and captures many of the wonderful characters that I’ve there.
The above photograph was of a meeting of the DIVIS RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION – DRA – I founded with a representative if the Northern Ireland Housing Executive NIHE. I was its first chairman.
I had offered the chairmanship to the then administrator of the cathedral – Father Vincent McKinley who replied: “There’ll be no fucking private army in my fucking parish”.
So, I became chairman.
The DRA campaigned for the demolition of the awful flats and their replacement with proper housing.
It also campaigned for the urgent upgrade of the flats and area pending the demolition.
THE BRITISH ARMY
Everyday our streets and balconies were patrolled by fully armed members of the Vritish Army.
Some of the soldiers were pleasant but others were there to provoke and to injure and kill.
I put my heart and soul into every single day I ministered in Divis – working 16 / 18 hours a day.
The people of the area were wonderful – embattled but the salt of the earth.
The clergy at this time thought the people were the lowest of the low and only associated with their favourites.
The exception, apart from myself was Father Jimmy McCabe, a Derry man and a chain smoker who said his prayers and was dedicated to the sick and housebound.
Copies of this book and other Passow books can be ordered on belfastarchiveproject.com