What Is A Free Nation?

In the Workers’ Republic of February 12th, 1916, James Connolly posed the question “What is a free nation?” and, further, whether the Home Rule bill would make Ireland free in the requisite sense. “No” was his answer to the latter, and instead sovereignty would have to be reclaimed, by force if necessary: “There can be no perfect Europe in which Ireland is denied even the least of its national rights; there can be no worthy Ireland whose children brook tamely such denial. If such denial has been accepted by soulless slaves of politicians then it must be repudiated by Irish men and women whose souls are still their own. … A destiny not of our fashioning has chosen this generation as the one called upon for the supreme act of self-sacrifice – to die if need be that our race might live in freedom.”

For the previous Connolly quote in this location see A Word Of Conjure With.

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Looking After Each Other

The former Ardoyne IRA memorial garden is now Ardoyne Youth Club’s ‘Garden Of Hope’, launched by Mayor John Finucane and actor Tim McGarry (‘Da’ from Give My Head Peace) on September 10th to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day – see second image, below.

“Be strong enough [to stand alone, smart enough] to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it” is a quote from financier Ziad Abdelnour (whose ‘strong’ promises of return on investment made him the subject of an investigation by the [US] Securities & Exchange Commission). It is used here in modified form in this anti-suicide mural encouraging Ardoyne youth (and others) to seek help for depression from Lifeline, PIPS, Samaritans, Lighthouse, Bridge Of Hope, Extern, Suicide Awareness And Support Group, .

The other quote – “I believe that the basic attribute of mankind is to look after each other” – is from Fred Hollows, New Zealand-born ophthalmologist, initially famous for treating trachoma in Aborigines.

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The Men And Women Of Violence

“Saoradh salute the men and women of violence.” Namely the signatories to the 1916 Proclamation, the women of the 1970s IRA, and modern “dissidents” with home-made weapons. Soaradh currently (mid-late 2019, in the wake of the death of Lyra McKee) no longer has a web site or Twitter feed, and the Belfast and Derry section’s Facebook pages are non-existent (other section’s pages are still up, including Tyrone, Dublin, and Munster).

On the same wall as the Larry Marley plaque.

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The Shadow Of A Gunman

Lyra McKee was killed observing a riot in Creggan, Derry, in April. The (New) IRA apologised for the consequences of the gun attack on police but did not suggest an end to violence (Guardian). The (presumably unfinished) stencil to McKee’s memory on Ardoyne Avenue (below) is now in the shadow of the “IRA” and assault rifle cut-outs (shown above) on the lamp-pole opposite.

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In The Hell Of My Prison Cell

“Free Matt Johnston” IRPWA/Saoradh stencils below Teach Ghráinne in the New Lodge, calling for the release of Maghaberry prisoner (and New Lodge resident) Matt Johnston. Johnston was given four years for his part in a tiger kidnapping in 2008 and appears to have ben re-arrested in late 2017 (Irish News | RN). He was one of the prisoners involved with a “bigoted screw” that led to graffitied threats against Maghaberry prisoner warders (RN | El Norte | Derry Journal).

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Dan McCann

Although originally from Clonard in west Belfast, at the time he was shot by the SAS in Gibraltar (along with Mairéad Farrell and Sean Savage) IRA volunteer Dan McCann was living in the New Lodge, site of this recently-added plaque in his memory. (He was previously included in a 3rd battalion Belfast Brigade mural on New Lodge Road.)

There are also new plaques to TC Campbell and Seamus McCusker.

“Óglach Dan McCann: On March 6th 1988 Dan was gunned down in Gibrlatar along with two IRA comrades Óglach Mairead Farrell and Óglach Sean Savage.”

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Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen, And Ardoyne

Martin Meehan joined the IRA in 1966 and was one of a few IRA volunteers defending Catholics in Ardoyne (Ard Eoin) in August 1969. Rioting did not cease there until the 16th, when British troops were finally deployed to the Crumlin Road to block mobs coming from the Woodvale and Shankill. Meehan resigned after the failure of the IRA to defend Ardoyne, Clonard, and Divis. This Magill article from the time summarises the IRA’s actions as “late, amateur and uncertain”.(Meehan would later rejoin the IRA and PIRA.)

After a few years honoring Seán McCaughey (see Chains And Bonds Have No Part In Us), Martin Meehan’s image (along with an RNU phoenix) is back on the Ardoyne Avenue gable that bears his plaque. The title of today’s post is based on the song “The Night We Burnt Ardoyne“.

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Hoods Will Be Dealt With

AAD [Action Against Drugs] circulated lists of alleged drug dealers in north and west Belfast in July (Belfast Live), and in August members brandishing a gun and a club posed beside graffiti in the New Lodge urging residents to ‘take back their community’ (BelTel); there have also been attacks on the houses of alleged anti-social elements (BelTel). However, in much of the graffiti, such as the piece above threatening “drug dealers, hoods, and house breakers”, “AAD” has been scored out, indicating community dissatisfaction with the vigilantes.

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Teach Ghráinne

“Óglach Tony ‘TC’ Campbell was shot dead by the British Army as he walked along Edlingham Street on February 4th 1973 as he returned home from celebrating his 19th birthday. TC was one [of] six New Lodge residents murdered which was later referred to as the “New Lodge Six Massacre. … Tony lived in 13D Artillery House [now Teach Ghráinne].” Campbell was hit 17 times (BBC).

“Óglach Seamus McCusker was murdered by members of the Workers Party [as part of the PIRA-OIRA feud] on this spot [New Lodge Road outside Artillery House] on the 31st October [1975]. At the time of Seamus’s killing he was on his way to deal with a local resident’s complaint.” McCusker was killed two days after the PIRA shot Robert Elliman in the Markets; a few hours after McCusker’s death, Tom Berry of the OIRA was killed in Short Strand.

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The Northern Crusades

Crusaders – off to a perfect start of two wins – travel the mile and a half across north Belfast to Solitude to  play Cliftonville at 3 this afternoon in the north Belfast derby. Today’s images are of the mural outside Seaview and the scene from the run-up to the team’s Irish Cup win over Ballinamallard (BBC-NI). In meetings between the two, Crusaders lead 151 wins to 84 (WP).

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