“Am le haontacht na hÉireann” [Time for Irish unity]. Between stints in prison in 1976, Bobby Sands carried a green harp flag – symbol of Ireland and in particular of the United Irishmen – in an August march to protest the withdrawal of political status (Gérard Harlay/Bobby Sands Trust). He is shown here marching under the #TimeForUnity message on Sliabh Dubh in the campaign for a border poll and Irish unity “lenár linn”/”in our time” (Fb | tw).
“Saoirse go deo.” INLA volunteer Kevin Lynch went on hunger strike 40 years ago yesterday, May 23rd, 1981. He would die 71 days later, on August 1st. His funeral is depicted above, part of a new IRSP/IRSM board commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strikes. The board is flanked by two other IRSP boards, one against the PSNI (“96% of Divis residents do not support the PSNI – defund, disarm, disband”) and one dedicated to founder Seamus Costello (“He was the only one who truly understood what James Connolly meant when he spoke of his vision of the freedom of the Irish people.” – Nora Connolly at Costello’s funeral)
In 2019, images of Bobby Sands before his (second and final) arrest and imprisonment were rediscovered in the collection of French photographer Gérard Harlay. Sands was serving as a flag-bearer in an August 1976 march from the Busy Bee to Dunville Park to protest the withdrawal of political status. (For some of Harlay’s images, see Bobby Sands Trust.) This new mural in his home area of Twinbrook copies one of the images (though presents him as carrying a Tricolour rather than a harp) along with protesters protesting for “Public transport for Twinbrook now” and “Social housing for Twinbrook now”.
On Sunday March 22nd, 1981, forty years ago this week, Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O’Hara joined Bobby Sands and Francis Hughes on hunger strike in Long Kesh/HMP Maze. They would be joined by 19 more prisoners before the strike ended with ten of the 23 meeting their deaths. On March 31st, 1974, Michael Gaughan went on hunger strike in Parkhurst, along with four others, including Frank Stagg. Gaughan died in June as a result of forced feeding; Stagg would die on a later strike, in February 1976.
Mairéad Farrell (on the right of the image above) was arrested for planting a bomb at a hotel in Dunmurry in April 1976, one month after Special Category Status for republican prisoners had been revoked. Kieran Nugent (on the left) began the “blanket” protest in September that year and Farrell was the first person to join the protest, when she arrived in Armagh women’s prison to begin her fourteen year sentence. She later took up a dirty protest and joined the 1980 hunger strike. She stood for election in 1981 (in Cork), but, unlike “Óglach Bobby Sands, MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone”, was not successful. (WP)
“I am oppressed as a woman and I am oppressed as an Irish person. Everyone in this country is oppressed and yet we can only end our oppression as women if we end the oppression of our nation as a whole.” Máiread [sic] Farrell
“The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality” – Che Guevara Lynch. The INLA’s Kevin Lynch died in the second hunger strike after 71 days. He is buried in Dungiven, where this memorial sits on the main road between Derry and Maghera.
“I ndíl chuimhne ar Óglach Kevin Lynch a fuair bás ar stailc ocrais ar son saoirse, 1ú Lúnasa 1981 [who died on a hunger strike for freedom, 1st August 1981]. Erected by the Irish Republican Socialist Ex-Prisoners Memorial Committee.”
100+ politicians, academics, and signed a letter calling for the release of some ETA prisoners during the coronavirus epidemic. This is only the first of the five demands (recalling the Blanket protest here) in this 32CSM poster from King Street, Belfast: “Support Basque political prisoners! Support the 5 demands! 1. The freeing of vulnerable prisoners and those who are coming to the end of their sentences. 2. To receive family visits. 3. Access to materials to avoid being infected (gloves, sanitisers, etc.). 4. Carrying out of Covid-19 tests on prisoners and jailers. 5. In the event of the death of family member, the possibility of a prisoner going to the funeral home to pay their last respects. Stop the torture!”
A home-made sign on cardboard “NHS – stay safe” has been attached to the mural to IRA volunteers Bobby McCrudden, Mundo O’Rawe, and Pearse Jordan, and the wall below it painted with the message “Stay home – Protect the NHS – Save lives”.
Discounts on hand-held and full-size Tricolours “in memory of all of those who have given their lives in the cause of Irish freedom” from the Milltown engravers – next to the Kurdish barbers – on the Falls Road.
The IRPWA/Saoradh/éistigí office on the Antrim Road is courting controversy (Irish News | BelTel) with its the holiday images in its front windows. On the right, a Grinch in PSNI uniform (in front of a bleeding poppy with swastika) harasses the child of a Soaradh member. (“Hey, peelers! Leave our kids alone” is a play on the Pink Floyd song ‘Another Brick In The Wall‘). On the left, Santa takes aim with a home-made RPG (modelled on the image included in Resistance). The Derry IRPWA office also received a Grinch cartoon in which he is battering down a door.