Helen Kelly blamed Muldoonism for Trades Hall killing

Interviews of Helen Kelly in the year before she died are being edited into a movie, due out later this year.

A preview of part of that from Newshub – Revealed: Helen Kelly blamed fatal bomb attack on Sir Robert Muldoon

A new film about the late union leader Helen Kelly reveals she blamed a fatal bomb attack on anti-union hysteria whipped up by former Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon.

Ms Kelly said the frenzy led the suitcase bombing left in the building, its explosion killing caretaker Ernie Abbott.

In it, she recalls how she knew Mr Abbott well – her father Pat Kelly worked in the hall with him.

“He was just a lovely guy who lived in the hall, did his job, was a union person as well, had a little dog which everybody loved that got injured in the bombing, Patch.”

The movie is based on a series of interviews with the union leader in the year before she died – including one about the 1984 Trades Hall bombing.

There is a scene on the bomb attack, based on interview footage released to Newshub, in which Helen Kelly clearly blames it on the environment created by Muldoon, known as ‘Muldoonism’.

“Just this absolute sort of anti-Communist, anti-socialist, anti-reds under the bed hysteria which was really designed to shut down trade unions and discredit them,” she said.

“It was run by Muldoon – and it was vicious, and people were being forced to be sort of scared of trade unions and to see them as a threat,” she said.

“And it got worse and worse, and it was this sort of war of words at that stage – and then suddenly, someone put a bomb in the Trades Hall.”

It’s quite possible that intolerance and hate whipped up for political purposes at least contributed to the murder of Abbott. This was as bad as the Rainbow Warrior bombing, whether killing someone was the aim or not.

The deliberate division and attack methods of Donald Trump could also contribute to something terrible in the US happening, given the number and type of arms readily available there.

Looking back: Trades Hall bombing, 1984

Trades Hall bombing, 1984

This police poster calls for information on the Trades Hall bombing, at Vivian Street, Wellington, on 27 March 1984. A bomb left in a suitcase killed Ernie Abbott, a unionist and caretaker of the hall. At the time of the bombing Trades Hall was the headquarters of a number of trade unions. The attack came after a period of heightened industrial tensions, during which Prime Minister Robert Muldoon made frequent verbal attacks on the union movement. The bombing remains an unsolved crime, but it appears to have been the action of an isolated individual with a hatred of unions.

Courtesy of New Zealand Police – Nga Pirihimana O Aotearoa

 

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31 Comments

  1. PDB

     /  April 4, 2018

    I have spent considerable time compiling her evidence that ‘Muldoonism’ was the reason for the bombing below;

    *

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 4, 2018

      Blaming Rob Muldoon for the bombing is a bit of a quantum leap, I think.

      In the era of endless strikes, the unions could hardly expect to be very popular.

      Reply
      • Patzcuaro

         /  April 4, 2018

        Were you one of Rob’s mob?

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  April 5, 2018

          It was a bit before my time !

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 5, 2018

            Remember how the ferry workers seemed to go on strike at the time when it would cause the most inconvenience ? They can’t have done it every school holidays, but when I look back, it seems like it 🙂

            The English ones did, too, and people would be stranded in France or Belgium.

            Reply
  2. PDB

     /  April 4, 2018

    “The unions did mount their own investigation, however, discovering who they believe planted the bomb.

    They found a British military bomb expert who had suffered trauma in Ireland and faced the possibility of repercussions from the IRA.

    The man, suffering a breakdown, was secretly shifted to New Zealand under an assumed name, Mr Douglas says.

    He moved to Perth the day after the bombing. Mr Douglas says the man was one of just two people in New Zealand with the know-how to make that bomb – and he says he has received a reluctant acknowledgment of this from police.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/capital-life/8489688/Trades-Hall-bombing-tragedy-still-an-unsolved-mystery

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  April 4, 2018

      Seems unlikely. How was randomly bombing trades hall going to do anything but raise sympathy and support for the unions? So why would any sane organisation pay for a UK expert to come and do the job? And how would an insane individual afford and manage such a project?

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 4, 2018

        He had a breakdown, he wasn’t insane necessarily. And being insane wouldn’t mean that he was stupid.

        It’s hard to believe that there were only two people who knew how to make a bomb in NZ.

        It’s really odd that $50,000 ( a huge sum then) wouldn’t tempt anyone who knew the bomber, so it’s possible that nobody but the bomber was involved

        My post below crossed yours, it was in reply to Pants’ one.

        Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 4, 2018

      Possibility ? Probability more like.

      The IRA would force British soldiers at gunpoint into cars packed with explosives due to go off in so many minutes, If the soldier didn’t drive off, the car would have exploded in the street, causing who knows how many deaths. He would drive like a maniac to the barracks, leap out shouting warnings to anyone around and hope that he and they were not blown up, The barracks had bomb pits built after a few of these events, but the trauma to anyone involved in one of these incidents would be beyond imagining for most of us. Nightmares forever.

      There was a bit of film of a soldier who inadvertently drove around a corner into a street where there was an IRA funeral procession. He frantically reversed, of course, but the car was surrounded. He was dragged out, beaten almost to death and then shot.

      The soldiers had to live with this sort of thing every day. Trauma ? I believe you !

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  April 4, 2018

        Terrible … and nothing like the trauma of being a country divided and occupied by foreign armed forces.

        If only all Irish had simply accepted their lot as citizens of the United Kingdom … happily died in droves in the potato famines … and never attempted to reassert their national identity, culture, heritage and language …

        And if only Catholics and Protestants in Ireland had got on famously together … like they did in … England … ???

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  April 5, 2018

          My parents were from Ulster, so I grew up with Irish history; there’s probably not much that you can tell me about it. Cromwell will probably never be forgiven for what he and his men did. I won’t start on the coffin ships that left Ireland during the Famine when something like 1/4 of the people died. No wonder there was an IRA. This doesn’t mean that I defend many of their actions, terrorism is almost always counter-productive. The IRA held my great-uncle at knife-point all night when they broke into his house (I forget why they were there, but although he was an old man then, he’d been a strong and independent one before that broke his spirit) My aunt automatically checked the car for wires that shouldn’t be there, My grandmother saw bits of bodies being raked down from trees after one blast, and it was common to see the streets being hosed down to get rid of blood and bits that were too small to collect,

          The bomb that killed Mountbatten blew in the back door and windows of my aunt’s holiday house when she and my mother were in the kitchen.

          Catholics and Protestants getting along together ? That’ll be the bloody day. In my mother’s family, you didn’t marry a Mick, you might employ them (my grandmother’s maids were all Catholics) but you didn’t go to the same school or pub. My grandfather was unimpressed that both his daughters married men with Catholic surnames ( my uncle Rory even looked like one)

          There were some RCs on my father’s side, one of whom was a great poet who refused the Poet Laureateship (but not the Oxford Chair of Poetry, nobody could refuse that) on principle.

          When my mother realised that the nice old man down the road had probably been a Black and Tan, all hell broke loose.

          The soldiers should never have been there. They were loathed by both sides.But no matter what you think about them, the bomb cars were a terrible thing, making someone choose between being blown to pieces themselves or having who knows how many innocent people being killed.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 5, 2018

            My mother said that there incidents every day at the time of the soldiers being there, but most didn’t make the news here. She and my stepfather once found themselves in the middle of a shooting, bullets flying all around them, so they took off out of there and didn’t bother to find out why this was happening.

            Reply
  3. Patzcuaro

     /  April 4, 2018

    The national socialist Muldoon targeting socialist unionist.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 4, 2018

      I think that the theory is over-simplified.

      Reply
      • Patzcuaro

         /  April 4, 2018

        Maybe how about “God complex”

        “A god complex is an unshakable belief characterized by consistently inflated feelings of personal ability, privilege, or infallibility.”

        Reply
  4. Patzcuaro

     /  April 4, 2018

    I wasn’t in NZ in 84, I left after the Springbok tour, carless days and the wage & price freeze. Sounds like a command economy. So I missed the Trades Hall bombing and Queen St riot. I was in Switzerland when the Ranbow Warrior was blown up. My first thought was the French but the US was an outside possibility.

    https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/queen-street-riots-1984

    Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  April 4, 2018

      Rainbow

      Reply
    • David

       /  April 4, 2018

      “Sounds like a command economy.”

      It was.

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  April 4, 2018

        Yes, it had become a very peculiar form of Right-Wing “command economy” where Leftist unions – usually the ‘rulers’ of a command economy and previously moreso in NZ – had been relegated to ‘enemy-of-the-people’ status largely by indoctrination … the very place usually occupied by their capitalist masters …

        There is nothing either Left or Right that functions without an enemy …

        I believe this topsy-turvy situation occurred here because the capitalist masters in Aotearoa NZ weren’t industrialists to anything like the extent they’d become back ‘home’ in England …

        Instead they were mostly a bizarre kind of ‘Everyman Exporter’ Landed Gentry … The Farmers … Puppet Masters disguised as Fred Dagg … along with those occupying all the branches of commerce farmers controlled …

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  April 5, 2018

          I saw a chair that someone (I think he was a Harbour Master or something along those lines) had kept when the Rainbow Warrior was salvaged, He hadn’t cleaned it, and I hope that nobody has, as the mud and the rest were part of its history. He had it quite legally !

          Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 5, 2018

      My aunt was here for a holiday during the carless day thing and said that it was better than what they had, There were no carless days in Ireland, but once a petrol station had sold out, that was it, and there was a good chance of being stranded somewhere, With carless days people at least knew where they stood. I can see her point !

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  April 5, 2018

        Carless days were a great idea which, I predict, will have its day again!

        Reply
        • PartisanZ

           /  April 5, 2018

          … have their day again …?

          … have their days again …?

          Reply
        • Gezza

           /  April 5, 2018

          Carless Days was a great idea which … its.
          Or, … were a great idea which will have their day again
          I reckon.

          Doesn’t matter. Semantics. Your point’s clear enuf. And you never know what could happen so I would never rule it out.

          Reply
          • PartisanZ

             /  April 5, 2018

            Yes, it might be carless days again in my lifetime …

            In the children’s lifetime maybe a single car day per week?

            And in the grandchildren’s maybe a single day per week with electricity … which will have been squandered on cars …

            Reply
          • Gezza

             /  April 5, 2018

            Who can say? If there are ever carless days in the future they’ll be a temporary measure for similar reasons as the last lot, or there’ll be a new personal / personalised transport system (like the heli-car) that comes when you call it.

            I think what the future holds will probably be mostly good things, & certainly don’t think things will be worse than they are now, here in NZ.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  April 5, 2018

              The guys that demoed the heli car here recently were planning to use it as a heli-taxi service, not market them as personal vehicles.

            • PartisanZ

               /  April 5, 2018

              Mmmm …. maybe … notwithstanding unforeseen consequences …

              I’ve already seen one article saying NZ’s power generation won’t cope with an electric vehicle fleet …

              So maybe we relinquish Nuclear Free and go Nukie for the sake of our much over-rated ‘personal mobility’ …?

              Or water-powered cars take precedence … and water becomes a scarce resource … the kind that starts wars …?

              Or yeah … We could fill the air with Heli-Cars? Hell … E …

            • Gezza

               /  April 5, 2018

              Who know what improvements and innovations children & grandchildren will see in their lifetimes? Think about those that have occured in ours. I’m not blind to the risks & threats doomsayers report all the time but others report on the possibilities. I don’t see the bleakness you seem to.

              I saw something on my facebook newsfeed earlier today, attributed to Eistein, though I dubious:

              Don’t associate with negative people. When there is a solution they always try to find a problem.

            • PartisanZ

               /  April 6, 2018

              There are whole industries based on the contemplation and expression of possible unforeseen circumstances Gezza … notably political lobbying …

              I’m not unaware or unappreciative of the positive changes in my lifetime. I don’t see the future as bleak … although I believe there’s certain things we’ll need to do for it NOT to be … or for it to be more positive for more people …

              To express reservations isn’t being negative at all … it’s expressing reservations … It’s like risk assessment in insurance or business …

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  April 6, 2018

          Well, I could see that it must have been a pain in the bum not to be able to go further than a tankful would take you in case the petrol stations had run out ! Towies must have made a killing.

          Reply

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