“Stop prosecuting Northern Ireland’s veterans to appease terrorists.” Danny Kinahan, former UUP politician and captain in the Blues & Royals, was appointed Veterans’ Commissioner For Northern Ireland by the SoS in August last year (2020). He described his first task as building a database of veterans and alerting each one to the services available (News Letter | BBC | Irish Times) but the position immediately puts him at the centre of the debate over “legacy” issues and a focal point of interest groups such as Veterans & Supporters United (Fb | tw) who are responsible for the banner above. In October Kinahan was quoted as saying that the system is “very lopsided” against veterans (BelTel).
Claire Curran of Survivors Of Suicide (Fb) in Tamar Street, east Belfast, reports that there has been in increase in people reaching out to the organisation during the pandemic (NewsLetter). This Blaze FX (Fb) mural is at Connswater.
“Clark Groves was born on the 14th May 1889. A naval officer, in WW1, he fought at the Battle of Jutland. After the war he worked as a fitter in Harland & Wolff before using his de-mob money to establish a bookmaking business here in 14 Manderson Street (since demolished), at the back of the Old Clock Bar. The bookie’s ‘Pitch’ was very like the ones seen in the TV series ‘Peaky Blinders!’ At this time, running a betting business was illegal. Clark, and a number of other bookmakers, founded the Turf Guardians Association and led a successful campaign to have their businesses legalised. Years later, a local bookie told Clark’s grandson that he and his colleagues owed their livelihoods to ‘Old Godfathers’ like Clark. Clark was a generous, popular man. He helped out many local people over the years, lending money for funerals, weddings and education costs. It’s said that he ‘married and buried them on the Newtownards Road!’ He died on 28th May 1957, just two weeks after his 68th birthday. His funeral was the biggest seen before or since in the area. The trolley buses to Dundonald Cemetery were full of people and those who couldn’t get on walked the length of Newtownards Road to be there. A measure of the man for sure. Clark Groves was the annual summer football tournament that was played at ‘The Hen Run,’ the home of Dundela FC. It was known as the Clark Groves Cup. – Stephen Beggs”
Brexit has happened and people, particularly hauliers and smaller retailers, are having trouble adjusting to the fact that Northern Ireland remains within the EU customs union and single market for goods, which means additional paperwork for goods moving between NI and Britain (BBC | Belfast Live). The current disruptions will likely be overcome in due course but the presence of a border is symbolically powerful. This east Belfast graffitist is unhappy with the outcome: “No Irish sea border – [DUP leader] Arlene [Foster] must go.” George Osborne, former UK chancellor and now editor at the London Evening Standard, called the DUP’s decision to reject Theresa May’s deal “stupid” (BelTel) and the FT called the DUP nationalism’s “secret weapon” (ft.com). The Tele wonders if Gavin Robinson is angling for a crack at the leadership (BelTel).
Four of the 700 NHS staff in the UK to die of Covid during the pandemic have come Northern Ireland, the most recent being dementia specialist Alan Henry in Antrim hospital (Express | BelTel | iTV). In the south, Defence Forces have been deployed to three nursing homes while 6,400 health workers are off sick (Irish Times). The mural above shows a masked nurse and doctor among a field of poppies. For the black-and-white boards above, see Connswater Commemorates.
Speed limits in Northern Ireland are set by the Department Of Infrastructure/An Roinn Bonneagair after consideration of all relevant factors. The residents of Tern Street, Belfast, have instead used a decades-old mode of public communication – wall painting – to ask motorists to slow down around the sharp turn just off Dee Street.
Walkway Community Centre (Fb) in east Belfast got a new mural back in May, painted by Nathan Calderwood, to thank all of the “community heroes” working during the pandemic. “ea” (on the left) is for Education Authority who sponsored the work.
Members of Foreign Assassins and TDS (The Death Squad, in homage to the old NY crew) collaborated on a series of panels along the Connswater greenway inspired by the hit Netflix show Stranger Things, which in turn was inspired by Stephen King novels (including Needful Things) and 1980s fantasy and sci-fi movies (WP).
The old Ballymacarrett station was the last stop before Belfast when travelling from points east such as Holywood and Bangor. On the morning of January 10th, 1945, a faulty signal caused the 7:10 from Bangor to be halted at Ballymacarrett, only for it to be hit from behind by the oncoming 7:40 from Holywood. The steel lead car of the Holywood train ploughed through the whole of the last carriage’s wooden coachwork and on into the penultimate carriage, causing the death of 22 people injury to another 27 (WP).