A Citizens’ Assembly

The Citizens’ Assembly is a group of 99 randomly-chosen Irish citizens, plus a chair, that considers large-scale issues over the course of months. It began in 2016 by taking up the Eighth Amendment on abortion, the “pensions timebomb” fixed-term parliaments, voter turnout and referendums, and climate change – it is not restricted, like its predecessor the Constitutional Convention, to constitutional issues (WP). The 2020-2021 Assembly considered gender equality and biodiversity loss. Sinn Féin called for an Assembly on Irish unity at its November (2022) Ard Fheis (Irish Examiner | Derry Journal | youtube panel) and Belfast City Council passed an SDLP motion to recommend that the Taoiseach form an Assembly (News Letter); in December, the Dublin City Council approved a measure calling for an Assembly to consider the topic (SF).

“The Irish government should establish a citizens’ assembly on Irish unity/tionól na saoránach ar aontú na hÉireann.” Sinn Féin’s preferred outcome of such a process is given at the bottom of the board: “#Time4Unity/Am d’Aontacht”. The images show the board in north Belfast (Limestone Road) and south Belfast (Cromac Street).

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Fáilte Go ACT

The Irish “Fáilte” is included among the many languages at the entrance to the ACT (Action For Community Transformation) visitor centre on the Shankill. See previously the signage at Boyd’s in the lower Shankill (which does not have a “Fáilte”) and the Coiste claim that All Flags Are Welcome (which does not have a Union Flag).

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Fáilte Roimh Chách

We have featured this ‘bookmark’-dimensioned mural on the so-called “International Wall” before (in 2018) but today include an image (the third one, below) of the replica cell inside the museum itself; a sharper image (and the source for the painting) can be seen on the home page of the Museum’s web site.

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Central Drive

Creggan sports centre opened in October 2009 (Leisure Opportunities) and part of the architecture was to cover the brick exterior with five plain-white panels along Central Drive. These have been taken over by Saoradh/IRPWA, this year to protest the extradition, internment, and treatment of republican prisoners, commemorate the 1981 hunger strikers, support Palestine, and threaten drug dealers.

For the graffiti, see End Internment Of Jason Ceulemans

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A Perennial War

Here is the scene at Kells Walk/Rossville St in the Bogside.

From left to right:

O’Hara-Devine mural

No Amnesty For British State Forces: “Democide is the murder of any person or people by a government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder. Democide is not necessarily the elimination of entire cultural groups but rather groups within the country that the government feels needs to be eradicated for political reasons and due to claimed future threats. – No amnestry for British state forces”

End British Political Policing (Saoradh (web))

Bobby Sands/IRPWA: “I’ll wear no convict’s uniform/Nor meekly serve my time/That Britain might brand Ireland’s fight/800 years of crime” [Francie Brolly song] (IRPWA (web))

Free All Political Prisoners! (IRPWA)

1981: 1981: “I am a political prisoner. I am a political prisoner because I am a casualty of a perennial war that is being fought between the oppressed Irish people and an alien, oppressive, unwanted regime that refuses to withdraw from our land.” [Bobby Sands’s diary, day 1] (IRPWA)

Unity Referendum Now!: “British occupation has been a disaster for the people of Ireland. A united Ireland is the way forward for all the people of Ireland.” (IRSP.ie)

40th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike: described previously in For A Socialist Republic (IRSM/IRSP)

“Peace” mural (with cross) from the Bogside Artists

In the shot above, our photographer has intervened and stood up the last panel of the “1981” board.

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Maggie McAnaney

A plaque was mounted this (2022) summer to Maggie McAnaney, who died when a gun went off at an IRA checkpoint near Burnfoot, Co. Donegal, a month before the Civil War began (Derry Journal). This is an unusual use of the phrase “active service”, as McAnaney was travelling to a picnic at the time, rather than on exercises or preparing munitions; the phrase would later come to be associated primarily with a premature bomb explosion.

“In proud and loving memory of Margaret “Maggie” McAnaney, Cumann na mBan, died on active service at Burnfoot on 31st May 1922, aged 18 years. The McAnaney family home was situated on Bishop Street. Fuair siad bás ar son saoirse na hÉireann.”

Derry Journal has images from the launch.

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A Letter To The 22

“I gcuimhne na nÓglach a fuair bás ar son saoirse [in memory of the volunteers who died for freedom].” The “22” are the familiar 12 deceased Troubles-era hunger-strikers, plus 10 from 1917 to 1946: Thomas Ashe, Terence McSwiney, Michael Fitzgerald, Joseph Murphy, Joe Witty, Dennis Barry, Andy O’Sullivan, Tony Darcy, Jack McNeela, Sean McCaughey.

“‘A Letter To The 22: You have not gone away. You are in the hearts/and on the lips of your people./The old speak of you with knowing tongue. The middle/aged, as those who walked beside you./The young men and women with a passion not unlike your own./Your names can be heard on the wind taken from the mouths/of men who tend their flocks on Slieve Gullion, Cnoc Phádraig, Glenshane./They echo in small graveyards in/Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Tyrone, Antrim, Derry and Armagh./They are heard among your people at the mass gate on/Sunday, in the crowd at the hurling game, around the hearth when/the bottle is cracked and song in sung. Your image can be seen/on the faces of happy smiling children for whose freedom you gave your all./You are in our prayers, you have not gone away, you never will’ – Colum Mac Giolla Bhéin

For the same 22, see Stailc Ocrais. Replaces a painted mural to Joe McDonnell.

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Donncha Mac Niallais

“Óglach, gaeilgeoir, gníomhaí, Cara. Ár mbuíochas leat. [Volunteer (in the IRA), Irish-speaker, activist, friend. Our thanks to you]” Mac Niallais was imprisoned in 1976 (Belfast Telegraph) and went on the blanket – here is his mother, Mary, protesting his treatment: Do You Care? Upon his release in 1986 he took up community work and political activism in Derry, including a prominent role the parade protests in the mid-90s (see No Sectarian Marches | No Consent No Parade). (Derry Journal) The mural is by local artist Razer (BelTel).

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Gairdín Na hÉireann

Plants provide symbols of, and metaphors for, rebellion. In America, 1775, Paine wrote of the Liberty Tree which Americans must rise to defend against “Kings, Commons and Lords” and Jefferson would later write (in a 1787 letter) that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” In Ireland, the tree of liberty was borrowed for the 1798 rebellion (see Where Did The Seeds Fall?“) and although t more familiar symbol of the 1798 Rebellion is the pike, the shamrock is thought to be included as one of the objects in the Wearing Of The Green: Boucicault’s version begins “Oh, Paddy, dear, an’ did you hear the news thats goin round?/The shamrock is forbid by law to grow on Irish ground.” The lily, of course, is a symbol of the 1916 Rising, though it is shown here growing between sunflowers and a rose.

These painted electrical boxes are in Westrock and Ballymurphy (“Fáilte chuig Baile Uí Mhurchú”).

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Saoirse Go Deo

The 1918 ‘Representation Of The People’ act gave 8.4 million women in the United Kingdom the right to vote (WP). (For the two women on the left holding the ‘Votes For Women’ sign, see Women’s Hall And Cost-Price Restaurant.) In that same year, Countess Constance Markievicz was the first woman elected to Westminster and became Sinn Féin Minister For Labour in the first Dáil Éireann that was established as an alternative. Ten years earlier, she had co-founded Na Fianna Éireann with Bulmer Hobson. The names of Derry fianna are listed on the right. “Fuair siad bás ar son saoirse na hÉireann.” (This board replaces the former Fianna mural that celebrated the centenary in 2009.)

To the left is a “Join RSYM” stencil with the names of the ten deceased 1981 hunger strikers; to the right is a picture of the memorial across the street to the dead of the 3rd battalion of the Doire Brigade Óglaigh na hÉireann.

“But while Ireland is not free I remain a rebel, unconverted and unconvertible. There is no word strong enough for it. I am pledged as a rebel to the one thing – a free and independent republic.”

“Ach a fhad is nach bhfuil Éire saor, seasfaidh mé an fód mar cheannairceach, gan géilleadh, gan athrú. Níl focal dá bhfuil atá chumhachtach go leor. Tá gealltanas tugtha agam mar cheannairceach, cuspóir amháin a chur i gcrích – poblacht shaor agus neamhspleach.”

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