In April, the Workers’ Party (web | web | tw | Fb | Fb) suffered a leadership challenge and a split in which its sole elected representative – Ted Tynan on Cork county council – left the party (statement). This is only the latest in a long line of splits, going back to the formation of the modern Workers’ Party, from a split in Sinn Féin in 1970 (WP).
“National Commemoration Committee – erected in memory of all those comrades who dedicated their lives for the establishment of a democratic, secular, socialist republic. ‘I have given whatever I had to give for the party, the people of Ireland, and for a better world, but others have given more, much more. Comrades have given their lives’ – Tomás Mac Giolla TD. ‘For the unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter.'”
“The Workers Party – Socialist, Secular, And Anti-Sectarian – For Workers’ Unity and Socialism – Libreté, égalité, fraternité”. The Mental Health Matters mural on Northumberland St was in a space “kindly on loan from the Workers Party”; the lease has apparently expired and in its place is this new Workers’ Party (Fb | web) mural.
Members of Cuba Solidarity Forum Ireland (tw) took to Sliabh Dubh on Friday (along with Gael Force Art) to unfurl what they claim is the largest ever Cuban flag below the hashtag “Unblock Cuba”, which is the name of their current campaign. The event was chosen to coincide with US president Joe Biden’s 8-day trip to the UK and Europe, pressuring him to abstain in the UN motion to end the blockade which will be debated on June 23rd (CodePink).
London street artist Dan Kitchener (web | tw | ig) is back on the Shankill (after recently completing Night Taxi) painting in an even bolder location: where Night Taxi was up around the bend in the Woodvale, the new piece – “Hope” – is at the bottom of the Shankill on Northumberland Street and moreover sits atop Conor’s Corner (2015 | 2021).
Both murals feature Tokyo landscapes (as is the case with Dan’s work) but a geisha is featured here rather than a familiar black taxi. These two murals represent the strongest incursion of street art beyond the city centre and into “sectarian” areas. Reaction has been correspondingly mixed: while no one doubts the craftsmanship and aesthetic value one twitter user (echoed by various others) asks “What is it’s [sic] relevance to the Shankill? Or is it just a lovely mural?” See also: Visual History 11 on the rise of street art.
An appeal for positive graffiti (or non-political murals??) languishing in a builder’s yard on Lanark way, similar to the mural in Castlemara – see Spray-On Culture (and a different tactic from the ‘Spray Is Not The Way’ board in Portadown a decade ago).
In April, UK Defence minister Johnny Mercer resigned/was sacked due to his protestations over the Overseas Operations bill (which passed on April 29th but does not apply to service in NI (BBC)) and the prosecution of two soldiers for a 1972 killing of Joe McCann – they were acquitted (BelTel). Cases against British Army soldier will continue to be investigated, however, unless there is legislation introduced by the British government to deal with “legacy” issues in Northern Ireland. This VASU tarp is next to the Boundary Way waste ground, site of the lower Shankill bonfire. “Support the men who supported & protected us against Sinn Fein IRA – Soldier A-Z.”
“A little boy of fifteen years/was chosen thus to die./As a British soldier aimed his gun/And never questioned why!/The shots rang out, the echo[e]s still/Young Danny fell, shoot to kill./They shoot to kill & kill & kill/Oh please God stop them/But no one will.” Danny Barrett was shot and killed on July 9th, 1981 – a day after Joe McDonnell’s death and on evening of the same day as the shooting of Nora McCabe – by a single shot from a British army observation post on top of Ewart’s Mill. The mural in his memory is in Havana Way, close to his Havana Court home, where he been sitting on a garden wall talking to a friend. For a full account, see Free Ireland or watch video of his sisters in front of the new mural. For the Lawrence/Hammil board in Brompton Road, see Same Story, Same Bigotry.
“NHS – they save lives not bans. Supporting all front line workers.” This tarp outside the Lower Falls social club goes back to last (2020) summer and discontent over Tory efforts to save businesses and banks rather than give nurses a raise beyond what was already in the pipeline (e.g. CNN | Sky News).
The “Do not use” sign – from last year – is Saoaradh (web) reserving a wall in Thames St (on the Falls Road) that has never (to our knowledge) been used by anyone else. As the image above shows, the space is now being used – in part – by a hunger strike 40th anniversary board.