A Citizens’ Assembly

The Citizens’ Assembly is a group of 99 randomly-chosen Irish citizens, plus a chair, that considers large-scale issues over the course of months. It began in 2016 by taking up the Eighth Amendment on abortion, the “pensions timebomb” fixed-term parliaments, voter turnout and referendums, and climate change – it is not restricted, like its predecessor the Constitutional Convention, to constitutional issues (WP). The 2020-2021 Assembly considered gender equality and biodiversity loss. Sinn Féin called for an Assembly on Irish unity at its November (2022) Ard Fheis (Irish Examiner | Derry Journal | youtube panel) and Belfast City Council passed an SDLP motion to recommend that the Taoiseach form an Assembly (News Letter); in December, the Dublin City Council approved a measure calling for an Assembly to consider the topic (SF).

“The Irish government should establish a citizens’ assembly on Irish unity/tionól na saoránach ar aontú na hÉireann.” Sinn Féin’s preferred outcome of such a process is given at the bottom of the board: “#Time4Unity/Am d’Aontacht”. The images show the board in north Belfast (Limestone Road) and south Belfast (Cromac Street).

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Operation Banner

On February 21st, 1988, 23 year-old Aidan McAnespie was shot in the back by 18 year-old Grenadier Guardsman David Holden at a British Army checkpoint in Aughnacloy, Co. Tyrone as he (McAnespie) walked to the nearby GAA club. In November (2022), Holden was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence (BBC | Belfast Live) and he was sentenced yesterday to three years, suspended for three years, thus avoiding jail unless he is sentenced for some additional crime (BBC | BelTel | UTv | Irish Times). He is the first British soldier convicted since the Agreement of a Northern Ireland killing; he might be the only one, as legislation is pending in Westminster that would end prosecutions (RTÉ video | Sky New video). The legacy legislation was discussed previously in Was This Lawful? | Soldier A-Z | Come For One, Come For All | Paras Fight Back | Stop The Witch Hunt.

The banner shown above was hanging on the railings at Laganside Courts, Oxford Street: “Operation Banner supporters group, Belafst and Scottish branch. Our veterans are heroes, not criminals. Leave our Operation Banner veterans alone and stop appeasing Sinn Fein/IRA terrorists.” “Operation Banner” is the name given by British forces to their operations in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 2007; since then, the depoloyment of British forces in Northern Ireland has been known as “Operation Helvetic” (Irish News).

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Cool

The Royal Victoria Hospital was the first public building in the world to have air conditioning, developed by Sirocco Works. Fans drew in outside air and passed it over mats of wetted coir (Cooling Post | images at HEVAC-Heritage). The qualifier “public” is necessary perhaps because Carrier invented the general process for a printing factory in New York (ASME) in 1902 and the New York Stock Exchange installed a system in 1902 (6sqft)

The image above is only one of many panels in College Street Mews by Ed Hicks (ig) on the general theme of Belfast and its industry.

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A Wall For All

A new braille plaque bearing the now-iconic saying “You are now enterting Free Derry” was unveiled last Tuesday (January 24th) by the founder of Children In Crossfire Richard Moore (featured previously in The Derry Lama) who was blinded in 1972 when he was hit with a rubber bullet.

Derry Journal has a gallery of images from the launch.

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Spared To Testify To Their Glorious Deeds

A history of the 36th (Ulster) Division in three panels along Knockwood Crescent in south Belfast:

1914 – Sons Of Ulster Answering The Call – 1915: “Ulster Division – a great military parade will take place at Belfast on Saturday, May 8, 1915. The troops of the Ulster Division numbering 17,000 men will be on parade. Cavalry, infantry, pioneers, engineers, signallers, cyclists corps, Army service corps and Army medical corps. Men and women of Ulster come and see the greatest military display every helf in Ulster, and do honur to your own Division. God save the King.” The original poster can be seen at Wartime Memories. “‘Quit yourselves like men and comply with your country’s demands.’ – Sir Edward Carson.” With a picture of “the inspection of the 36th (Ulster) Division by King George [V] 30th September 1915.

1916 – For God, For King & For Country – 1917: “The Battle of Albert (1st – 13th July) 1916. The leading battalions of the 46th (Ulster) Division) had been ordered out from Thiepval Wood just before 7.30am and laid down near the German trenches … At zero hour the British barrage lifted. Bugles blew the “Advance”. Up sprang the Ulstermen and without forming up in the waves adopted by other divisions, they rushed the German front line …… By a combination of sensible tactics and Ulster dash, the prize that eluded so many, the capture of a long section of the German front line, had been accomplished. During the Battle of the Somme the (Ulster) Division was the only division of X Corps (British Army) to have achieved its objectives on the opening day of the battle. This came at a heavy price, with the division suffering in two days of fighting 5,500 officers and enlisted men killed, wounded or missing. Of nine Victoria Crosses given to British forces in the battle, 4 were awarded to 36th (Ulster) Division soldiers.” With quotes from Wilfrid Spender (see I Would Rather Be An Ulsterman), and the poem We Shall Keep The Faith by Moina Michael. Please get in touch if you can identify the photo of soldiers going off to war at the top.

1918 – Their Name Liverth For Evermore – 1919: “Whether town dweller or country lad, volunteer or regular, officer or other rank, Catholic or Protestant, the sons of Ulster knew a comradeship and a trust in adversity that should be a lesson to us all.” “36th (Ulster) Division 32,186 killed, wounded, missing. The [Ulster] tower is dedicated to the glory of God in grateful memory of the officers, non commussioned officers and men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, and the sons of Ulster in other forces who laid down their lives in the Great War, and of all their comrades in arms who, by divine grace, were spared to testify to their glorious deeds.”

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An Injustice To One Is An Injustice To All

In his Letter From A Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr wrote, “I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The marchers portrayed in the poster above carry placards supporting immigrants (“No human is illegal”), the poor (“Poverty is the worst form of violence”) and Palestine. The poster calls for participants in the annual march, which retraces the route taken on the fateful day in 1972, beginning at Creggan shops and proceeding to Free Derry Corner. Yesterday’s march concluded a week of talks and other commemorative events. Today – January 30th – is the fifty-first anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Derry.

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Ballybeen Remembers

“Ballybeen remembers Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022” on the back of the “Ballybeen estate” sign at the Davarr Avenue entrance to the estate. Elizabeth died in September 2022, shortly after her platinum/70th jubilee.

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Moss Side Community Hall

“Moss side” is probably Scots, with “moss” meaning “marsh” or “(peat) bog” (DSL) and this mural is appropriately on Ballybog Road (in Dunmurry), “bog(ach)” in Irish meaning “soft (ground)..

In the mural, “QFB” is Queensway Flute Band – they used to have a mural in Seymour Hill – and “LOL 136” is a lodge in the Derriaghy District (Fb). It’s not clear if there is a specific referent for the dolmen in the centre. The mural is at least 12 years old and it is not clear what functions the hall currently serves; it previously (2017) was home to a men’s shed and in 2018 a Youth Hub opened in the building next to the hall (NIWorld).

With “KAH” graffiti.

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All Kings Die, Some Live Forever

The Malojian (Fb) mural (shown below) on the Oh Yeah Centre was the idea of Lyndon Stephens, founder of Quiet Arch records, and when he died in January 2020 after a long illness (Hotpress), Stevie Scullion returned the favour by organising the painting of a mural by Jonny McKerr (JMK) & Dermot McConaghy (DMC) the following November (Dig With It).

Gordon Street, Belfast

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Our Children Deserve More

BUILD Shankill now has a website that promises to provide (in the future) “a full inventory of vacant and derelict land in the area”. In the meantime, the campaign to bring attention to housing issues in the area continues with placards and tarps:

“Our children deserve more than dereliction – Better Understanding In Local Development (BUILD)”

“Did you know? The Shankill has over 80 waste sites the size of 62 football pitches with the space to build 3300 homes. #BuildShankill.” For a mural-sized version of this tarp (in the third image) over one of the pieces of waste ground, see #BuildShankill.

Also included is a tarp at Mayo Street (previously the site of Sinn Féin/IRA’s Golden Boy) from Greater Shankill Youth Connects (Fb) promoting their “Shankill Talks” forums: “90% of young people in this area say it’s easy to access drugs/alcohol.”

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