In April, UK Defence minister Johnny Mercer resigned/was sacked due to his protestations over the Overseas Operations bill (which passed on April 29th but does not apply to service in NI (BBC)) and the prosecution of two soldiers for a 1972 killing of Joe McCann – they were acquitted (BelTel). Cases against British Army soldier will continue to be investigated, however, unless there is legislation introduced by the British government to deal with “legacy” issues in Northern Ireland. This VASU tarp is next to the Boundary Way waste ground, site of the lower Shankill bonfire. “Support the men who supported & protected us against Sinn Fein IRA – Soldier A-Z.”
An coroner’s inquest found last month that the ten people killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre on August 9th and 10th, 1971, were innocent civilians and nine of them were killed by unjustified force on the part of the British Army (the cause of death of the tenth could not be known with sufficient certainty) (Guardian). Soldiers at the time claimed that they were being fired upon by some of those killed. The findings renewed calls for the prosecution of British Army soldiers and in particular General Sir Michael Jackson, adjutant to the 1st Parachute Regiment at both Ballymurphy and (five months later) Bloody Sunday (WP).
“Stop prosecuting Northern Ireland’s veterans to appease terrorists.” Danny Kinahan, former UUP politician and captain in the Blues & Royals, was appointed Veterans’ Commissioner For Northern Ireland by the SoS in August last year (2020). He described his first task as building a database of veterans and alerting each one to the services available (News Letter | BBC | Irish Times) but the position immediately puts him at the centre of the debate over “legacy” issues and a focal point of interest groups such as Veterans & Supporters United (Fb | tw) who are responsible for the banner above. In October Kinahan was quoted as saying that the system is “very lopsided” against veterans (BelTel).
Muralist Gerard ‘Mo Chara’ Kelly (whose catalogue of work can be seen in a separate site) and others from Gael Force Art (Fb) have mounted a three-piece memorial for the centenary of the Falls Road Massacre in which four people were killed – one of them being Mo Chara’s great uncle Jimmy Shields – in a 5-minute shooting spree by a “special patrol” on the night of the funerals of three men killed by the ‘RIC Murder Gang’ (see the 2007 post). For more background see the memorial’s Facebook page.
“These four innocent local men were murdered by an RIC/British Army death squad near this spot in [September 28th] 1920: James Shields, William Teer, Robert Gordon, Thomas Barkley.” With perhaps the first appearance of a hashtag on a plaque: #fallsroadmassacre1920
“Only fascists stand with ‘Soldier F’.” Lasair Dhearg (web) sticker on the Falls Road about the trial of an anonymous British Army soldier charged with the deaths of James Wray and William McKinney on Bloody Sunday.
At the end of September (2020) the Public Prosecution Service ruled that none of the other paratroopers would be charged in connection with the 14 deaths (BBC).
In the sticker, the Nazi swastika has been added to the emblem of the paratroopers, making it look very much like the emblem of the Nazi army.
The starting-point for the Ballymurphy Massacre tour (below) is on the so-called International Wall (at the corner of Divis Street and Northumberland Street) but the first site is two miles away, in Springfield Close. The third stop, shown above, commemorates the lives of Joseph Corr and John Laverty, killed in separate incidents by British Army paratroopers (distinguished by their red berets) on August 11, 1971, at the top of the Whiterock Road.
The Royal Air Force was established on April 1st, 1918 and in 1925 the 502 (Ulster) Squadron was formed at Aldergrove as a Special Reserve squadron (and later as an Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron). The squadron flew bombing raids against enemy submarines and ships during the second World War, from a succession of bases, including Limavady, Norfolk, Cornwall, and Stornoway (WP). (The plane depicted is perhaps a Halifax from later in the war. The officer depicted is perhaps Robert Oxland, the first commanding officer.) The mural above, in Main Road, Glynn, was unveiled on August 20th, 2018 (Roy Beggs) to commemorate the Force’s 100th anniversary.
“Ballyclare supports Soldier ‘F’. Our soldiers are heroes, not criminals.” “Soldier F” is the pseudonym of a British Army paratrooper who faces charges of murdering two civilians, William McKinney and Jim Wray, in Derry on Bloody Sunday (January 30th, 1972), as well as five counts of attempted murder. Proceedings began in September (BelTel), a witness list was presented in December (BBC-NI), and the case will resume on January 17th.