The D Company board that was placed over the Brendan Hughes painting earlier in the year (see: Nailed To The Mast) was prelude to this new mural. Brendan Hughes has been included since the 2008 version (compare 2005 with 2008) but Crumlin Road hungerstriker Billy McKee is included for the first time. McKee was the first OC of the PIRA’s Belfast Brigade and arrested for possession of a handgun. The hunger strike was to secure political status for prisoners who had been convicted of crimes (WP).
“This mural is dedicated to the lives of: Billy McKee, Hungerstriker, Crumlin Road Gaol, achieved political status, 1972; Kieran Nugent, Blanketman, H-Blocks Long Kesh, fought the loss of political status, 1976; Brendan Hughes, Blanketman, Hungerstriker, H-Blocks Long Kesh, 1980.”
“For what died the sons of Roisín?” The Dogs of IRA D Company [second battalion, Belfast brigade] move around the corner from Northumberland Street (see Our Struggle Continues) onto the International Wall and encroaches onto the mural of native son and first blanket man, Kieran Nugent: Nugent is reported to have said to his mother, “If they want me to wear a uniform they’ll have to nail it to my back.”
The Clowney Street phoenix, which dates back to 1981 (see The Oldest Murals), has been repainted, and above, the blanketmen painting (see 1981-2011) has been replaced with a montage of photographs from the period, including prisoners on the blanket and dirty protest, the funeral of Sands and of McDonnell, and three pieces of graffiti: “Thirty thousands can’t be wrong” (Sands’s election to Westminster), “Bobby Sands murdered 1.17 am 5th May 1981”, and “My position is in total contrast to that of an ordinary prisoner. I am a political prisoner.”
“Support the Maghaberry “Dirty Protest” 1981-2011″. Republican prisoners in Maghaberry began a dirty protest of throwing urine and excrement onto prison landings, as well as not washing or shaving, to protest forced strip searches (BBC).
This is the seventh year of the hunger strikers mural in Twinbrook. This is 2012/31st anniversary edition. See previously 2006 and 2008. There is a Marian Price poster on the left, next to Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg, who died on hunger strikes in 1974 and 1976. Blanket men Hugh Rooney and Freddie Toal are shown in the large mural on the right hand side, next to Bobby Sands.
For the 30th anniversary of the second hunger strike, the moasic portraits of the ten men to die (plus Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg) used at the Falls Road end of Beechmount Avenue to commemorate the 25th anniversary, are placed around the blanketmen board above the Clowney Street phoenix.
The “blanket” (Gaeilge: pluid) protest (not wearing prison uniforms) was a response to the removal of political (Special Category) status in 1976 (WP). The “no wash” or “dirty” protest (not using toilet facilities) followed in 1978 (WP). Both forms of protest are illustrated in the board shown above: three unshaven men wear blankets and go barefoot in a cell with excrement smeared on the walls.