Outta Control – Belfast – January 1983

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The cover story tells of how the British Army were able to veto the building of new houses on Belfast’s Crumlin Road, despite the Housing Executive, the Planning Office, and the local community association all being in favour of the development. It goes on to report that Housing Executive managers were holding regular meetings with the Army, and that Belfast Development Officer John Steel had been photographed in military uniform during a visit by the Queen to Hillsborough Castle.

Their Dublin correspondent details the fatal shooting – in the back of the neck and while unarmed – of Eamon Byrne. Byrne was a known robber whose life had previously been threatened by Gardai.

Other stories look at Northern Ireland Electricity’s heartless treatment of families in debt; plastic bullets; the Shoot-To-Kill policy of the RUC and British Army which saw seven unarmed men killed in an eight week period; and how the punk band Crass and 50 friends occupied a disused music venue in London, repelled the police and gave a free concert to 1,500 fans.

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Outta Control – Belfast – November 1982

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The cover story is about the Health Board boss, Ernest Kirkpatrick, who also ran a company which used blood pressure gauges stolen from Craigavon hospital and then sold the finished products back to the NHS. Kirkpatrick also conned the health service into buying him a luxury house. Sharing the front page is an article by the Moyard Housing Action Committee about the sewage problem on their estate which led to an outbreak of polio.

Inside there is an interview with two shop stewards about the strike for union recognition at Eastwoods scrapyard (a major employer in West Belfast and owned by the same ‘Mr Eastwood’ who was boxer Barry McGuigan’s manager).

Their Dublin correspondent reports from the campaign against the amendment which put the ban on abortion into the Constitution. How the anti-choice brigade got the Black Sheep pub in Coolock to cancel a room booking for an anti-amendment public meeting, and then tried to break up an outdoor meeting organised as an alternative.

Other pieces cover segregation of loyalist and republican prisoners, a Channel 4 tv programme about animal experimentation, John DeLorean (he of the gull-winged car, as seen in Back to the Future) and his move from motor manufacturer to cocaine dealer, and one on religion taken from the Dublin Anarchist Collective’s Nobody Rules OK pamphlet

Self Control – Belfast – March 1980

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Outta Control was a monthly bulletin from the Belfast Anarchist Collective who published 42 issues from 1980 to 1984. The first issue was titled Self-Control, after much joking that the title seemed more appropriate to an anti-masturbation tract, it was changed to Outta Control from no.2 onwards.

The BAC also ran a bookshop, Just Books, at 7 Winetavern Street (where the Castlecourt Shopping Centre now stands). The shop opened in June 1978 and finally closed 16 years later in June 1994.

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Contents of this issue include the republican prison struggle in the H-Blocks, the court case for conjugal rights taken by anarchist prisoners Marie and Noel Murray, and a piece accusing local punk-pop band Stiff Little Fingers of “selling out” because they signed to a major record label.

Fight War, Not Wars (October 1982)

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A four page leaflet put out after British anarcho/pacifist/punk band played at Belfast’s short lived anarchist youth ‘A Centre’ in Long Lane.  National Front supporters attacked the gig, and then the RUC arrived and thumped some of the punks who had been the target of the NF attack.

Opened in November 1981 the A Centre was run by the Belfast Anarchist Collective as an “alternative cultural space” in Belfast city centre and ran on Saturday afternoons.  It soon became a magnet for young people and punks in particular.  On loan from Belfast’s gay Carpenter Club the A Centre put on banned or controversial films, new wave music and punk bands, performance poets and artists, alternative books and comics, and a wholefood cafe.  Among the bands who played there were Stalag 17, The Defects, Xdreamists, Rudi, Spider, Rufrex, The Outcasts, The Defects, Just Destiny and Ten Past Seven.

The corganisers were openly hostile to the cops (usually refusing them admission: “sorry pal, we have a no uniforms policy“).  In retaliation the RUC got scare stories into the local papers about “under age kids mixing with subversives” “glue sniffing”, and so on.  This, and resulting hassle from the city council because they didn’t have an entertainment licence, meant that after about a year the Centre closed.