MP for Bootle to resolve Ballymurphy feud?

For most MPs the news that a MP from another constituency, never mind another party and country, was attempting to resolve a long-running and violent dispute in their area would be a source of embarrassment.. at least. But according to the BBC report, Joe Benton, the Labour Party MP for Bootle in Liverpool – who has been briefed on the issue by the British Irish Rights Watch group – has become involved in attempts to resolve the long-running and violent dispute in Ballymurphy. Any questions about how this would reflect on the area’s actual MP would no doubt fall into the ‘stupid’ category..

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  • jake

    so where is the honourable member for west belfast in all of this?

  • SuperSoupy

    Am I missing something?

    Has he become involved or just got a briefing from BIRW?

    If he is involved, how?

  • Dec


    When you’ve come back with details of what Joe Benton’s actually going to do (details of which are curiously non-existant in that report), then come back to us and be snide then.

  • jake

    i repeat the question for you chuckie robots: where is the mp for west belfast in all of this? this is all happening in his constituency, actually in his backyard and in the area where he grew up and cut his ira teeth – so where is he?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Any questions about how this would reflect on the area’s actual MP would no doubt fall into the ‘stupid’ category..

    Sinn Fein 23,631 votes
    SDLP 4,110 votes

    Yep- certainly looks like Gerry Adams is dying with embarassment as his constituency abandons him….

    For once I fully concur with you: it would be stupid to suggest this reflects in any way on Gerry Adams.

    btw If Joe Benton can get anywhere with these two extended families, then good luck to him!

  • McGrath

    When Joe Benton abandons his efforts out of disgust and despair, the questions regarding the local MP will have been answered.

  • Pete Baker

    The thread title should have been an indication that there are questions about what the MP for Bootle is going to do next. But, despite what some seem to think, that doesn’t negate the point made in the original post.

    As for the other ‘complaints’ and/or ‘observations’.. I’ll put them with the others in the general file.

  • mickhall

    Chris Donnelly’s reply above demonstrates what the priorities within SF are these days, all that matters, in the good old tradition of US Tammany Hall politics is the size of the vote. Adams gains a bucket full so that settles all arguments. What a silly “minds bigger than yours mentality”. No wonder the feud continues.

    I found it interesting, if true that Joe Benton, the Labour Party MP for Bootle in Liverpool is attempting to mediate between the two families, not least because Westminister MP have an agreement amongst themselves that they do not meddle in the business of other MPs constituents, without the MP in questions permission.

    Whilst the SF MPs do not sit in the Westminister parliament, I understand they abide by this agreement. So the real question is did Benton first talk to Adams about this matter, and if so is his involvement a mark of the Belfast MP failure to resolve this issue.

  • mickhall

    apologies, it should have been mine is bigger than yours.

  • Dec


    Any ideas on how to resolve this dispute? I’d ask Pete but I doubt he knows where Ballymurphy is.

  • mickhall


    Its a good question as the dispute is increasingly resembling one of those inter family wars one hears about that take place in the Appalachian mountains or within Pakistan’s tribal badlands, and are passed down through generations as a matter of honour, until people get to the stage when many of them have actually forgotten what caused it all.

    If Joe Benton fails in his task, maybe the Glasgow MP Mohammed Sarwar should be brought in, as I understand he has had some success with this type of dispute when they have erupted amongst families within his Glasgow constituency.

    Has anyone tried offering up a dozen sheep in sacrifice, I hear that some times works on the North West Frontier. I also heard on the radio that Terry Wait just retired, maybe he has some spare time, although he demands a radiator free environment.

    To be serious it does seem to me that what ever the rights and wrongs of this affair, it is time to call a halt as it is a private war no more, what with JCBs and properties being torched. The peace and safety of the whole community is being threatened now, thus perhaps it is time for the community to act en mass, not by taking sides but saying to the main participants if you will not cease these acts, or in the very least control your behavior so it does not spill over, then you are no longer welcome amongst us. For as things are you are making innocent peoples life’s a misery.

    In other-words a show of solidarity is needed, not easy I agree, but this community down the years has faced far worse than this Clampets and Clemmings type foolishness and come through.

    Good luck is about all one can say, I don’t envy anyone who gets this task.

  • Dec


    Thanks for the response. As you say, only the community can solve this. How is the million dollar question. It’s understandable that people are reluctant to put their heads above the parapet when you’re dealing with people who think nothing of stabbing a man to death in broad daylight or firebombing houses with kids inside. Another alternative is to hold out for suggestions from the ‘experts’ who know better than everyone else.

  • The People’s Champion?

    ‘Has anyone tried offering up a dozen sheep in sacrifice,’

    Very witty Mick-nice that you can make light of the living hell that this feud is for the people caught up in the middle of this squalid and sorry affair. You’re really showing your ‘man of the people’ credentials with such demonstations of your scintilating wit.

  • Mick Fealty


    Such advice would come ill from people (experts or no) when so little of this story is actually known to the outside world.

    I cannot see why a Liverpool MP has to be drafted in, or what he can possibly do. The least you might surmise is that our local politicians seem either not to have tried to help, or for reasons known only to themselves have decided they can’t help, or are being unusually coy about what they have done.

    But the most extraordinary aspect of this story, after its length and ferocity, is its sheer under-reporting in the press.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick F

    You’re leaving out one particularly relevant scenario: perhaps local representatives-including the MP- have tried to help and remain unable to prevent these attacks due to the sheer bloody-mindedness of the individuals involved on both sides.

    There have been public rallies demanding an end to the violence in the area, but those involved seem determined to persevere. I might add that some involved, having left the Ballymurphy area temporarily, wrought havoc on a local community unfortunate enough to be residing in the vicinity of the fleeing yahoos.

    As for the under-reporting of the feud, it regularly features in the local press (Andersonstown News) including on the front page in the past week. It was also the subject of a BBC Spotlight programme.

    Mick H
    You’re deliberately misconstruing my post. I was simply pointing out the absurdity of using this feud to attack Gerry Adams/ Sinn Fein, as was clearly the intention given the manner in which it was introduced.

    That’s a sentiment clearly supported by local people in the constituency, who continue to vote for the party in ever increasing numbers- much to your annoyance, of course.

  • Dec

    I cannot see why a Liverpool MP has to be drafted in, or what he can possibly do

    Has he been drafted in, though? The only detail is that he has been briefed by the BIRW. If he does choose to come to Ballymurphy, I suspect he’ll be as effective as Len Murray was during the UWC strike.

    Such advice would come ill from people (experts or no) when so little of this story is actually known to the outside world.

    Doesn’t stop ‘experts’ criticising Gerry Adams for his (perceived) inaction without offering any solutions themselves.