From the Independent:
You can check in any time you want – but you can never leave.:
On the Europa Hotel’s message pads, my handwriting records “2 sold VSI RVH” (two soldiers very seriously ill Royal Victoria Hospital), “bomb in SR and VS St” (Sandy Row and Great Victoria Street railway station), “son of judge shot dead”, “policeman ser ill”, “2 Provos arrest, staff officers in 1st Batt, F co”, Europa office bill for 22 May/10 June ’73, £145, day after day, year after year. “An agreement was reached between the two anonymous and uniformed leaders of the UDA and Maj-Gen Robert Ford, Commander Land Forces Northern Ireland,” I had typed, “that the army should man checkpoints at the end of seven mainly Protestant streets in West Belfast and allow the UDA to carry out unarmed patrols through the area.”
The lot is worth a read but here’s another good bit:
My tray at the Europa filled each morning. The Quakers (3 June 1972): “Northern Ireland men and women must be given every encouragement to solve their community problem (sic) for themselves in sanity and peace.” The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (23 January 1973): “…unity of action is possible without distinction of creed or political affiliation between workers North and South…” The same phrase repeatedly, “the vast majority of ordinary peace-loving people” – the VMOPP, I cynically called them – were uselessly invoked. “…1972 goes out with sorrow for many and with shame for some,” wrote Lord Grey (Governor of the province on New Year’s Day), “but 1973 should come in with hope for all men and women of goodwill.” Pull the other one.
Welsh Nationalist. Rugby Fan. Know a bit about History and Railways…