“The young and the old rallied around/To help fight the forces of the British crown/Unsung heroes too many to name/Defended Unity flats and never sought fame”. Unity flats were built in 1968 to replace the old Carrick Hill but immediately came under repeated attack by loyalists from the nearby Peter’s Hill and Shankill; by 1987 their demolition had been approved but because of difficulty in rehousing residents (Hansard), the new Carrick Hill was not completed until 2009 (BelTel). The flats have a Facebook page, Growing Up In Unity Flats. The plaques shown today are on the side of the newsagents in the new Carrick Hill.
“Fuair siad bás ar son saoirse na hÉireann” [they died for Ireland’s freedom] Although it’s the 40th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike, this Lifford (Co. Donegal) board includes Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg who died in English prisons in the 1970s.
If you can explain the flag in the centre, please get in touch. The wide shot, below, includes a call to rally for 100% Redress, No Less.
“Referendum now”. On this day 100 years ago (1920-12-23) the ‘Government Of Ireland Act‘ – the fourth Home Rule bill – was passed in the UK parliament, partitioning Ireland into Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, both within the UK. The rest, as they say, is history, history we are still living out. Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald claimed (in an interview with Owen Jones of the Guardian) that Irish unity would be achieved this decade. Martin McGuinness said in 2003 that unity would be achieved by the centenary of the Rising (Indo) but that year has come and gone. (Feb poll | Oct poll)
“Don’t hand him over. Don’t play England’s game. Stop the extradition of Liam Campbell now.” Liam Campbell is wanted, for a second time, in Lithuania on charges of running guns to the Real IRA in 2006-2007. He was arrested in Dundalk in December 2016 and will appeal his extradition in January next year (Irish Times). The posters of support are from Republican Sinn Féin and the Republican Network For Unity.
“Active service” on paramilitary plaques means death by a premature bomb explosion rather than at the hands of enemy forces. All three of the IRA volunteers named here died in this way: Paul Fox in King Street in 1975, Sean Bailey in nearby Nansen Street in 1976, and Paul Marlowe on the Ormeau Road later that same year (Sutton). The central plaque (shown below) has been in place since at least 2006 but was augmented last year with portraits. The fourth is Tony Campbell, also from the 2nd battalion, dead by natural causes in 1985.
“I ndíl chuimhne ar Óglach Paul Fox A-Coy 2 Batt Belfast Brigade, died on active service 1-12-1975, Óglach Sean Bailey A-Coy 2 Batt Belfast Brigade, died at this location on active service 13-2-1976, Óglach Paul Marlowe A-Coy 2 Batt Belfast Brigade, died on active service 16-10-1976, Óglach Tony Campbell died of natural causes 4-8-1985. I measc laochra na hÉireann atá siad. In every generation we have renewed the struggle and so it will be to the end. When England thinks she has trampled out our blood in battle, some brave men and women rise and rally us again.”
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.”
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.