“Through adversity to the stars” – the in WWII the Belfast Telegraph conducted a campaign to raise money for spitfire aircraft. 17 were purchased with the roughly 89 thousand pounds raised, and each of them was named for a city or area of Northern Ireland, including one named for Ballymena, which is the site of this new mural recalling the effort. (BelTel | NIWorld)
The plaques to Jimmy Aberdeen on the right-hand side of the second image date back to the previous mural, which is included last below; previously on the wall were Fight To A Finish and, before that, I Can Stand Alone.
“Why did you do it? Have you not the guts to say?” The question is for David Holden, who in 1988 was an 18-year-old Grenadier Guardsman, manning a checkpoint in Aughnacloy, Co. Tyrone. On February 21st, Holden shot Aidan McAnespie as he was walking to the nearby GAA club. Holden was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence (BBC | Belfast Live) and was sentenced in February to three years, suspended for three years. The family expressed disappointment, saying that Holden did give a clear account of what happened nor express remorse (Sky News | Journal). Holden has now decided to appeal his conviction (BBC | RTÉ).
“CR Gas & The Burning Of Long Kesh, 15th-16th October, 1974 in Long Kesh. Operation Pagoda – the British government authorised and sanctioned the use of a chemical weapon against Irish Republican prisoners. Members of the 22nd S.A.S. carried out the attack from a helicopter.”
Operation Pagoda was the name of the SAS’s counter-terrorism programme (WP). Its role in the ‘Battle Of Long Kesh’ in October 1974 and its alleged use of CR (dibenzoxazepine) powder – the successor to CS powder (and before that, CN or “tear” gas) (New Scientist) – remains a classified matter. CR had been authorised for use in 1973 (Guardian).
In addition to the repainted mural in Donore Court (featured yesterday in Time For The Truth) a number of information boards have been mounted along the New Lodge Road and on Teach Eithne, presenting photographs and profiles of the six youths who were killed, and a map and description of the events that took place on the night of February 3rd-4th, 1973.
The board concludes, “It is equally true that many others from the neighbouring Unionist and Protestant communities lost their lives during the conflict – these tragedies too bring a painful sense of loss that must be acknowledged. With over 100 lives lost by a combination of loyalist and British State forces – the Greater New Lodge community experience speaks to a story of State execution, collusion and naked sectarian killings over a 35 year period. … The New Lodge community has a narrative that remains to be told – this includes lives lost, imprisonment and discrimination. It is extremely difficult to accurately convey the enormity of the devastation and pain of lives lost in the conflict. … The New Lodge conflict narrative is not of passive victimhood, but of a community who survived the most difficult circumstances and who remain steadfast in their determination to pursue truth and justice for their loved ones.”
A candle-lit vigil (youtube | iTV) took place last Friday (February 3rd) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the “New Lodge Six Massacre”. Shortly before midnight on the night of February 3rd-4th, 1973, Jim Sloan and James McCann were killed by the UDA outside a bar – or so the authorities alleged; the plaque shown below near the spot where they were shot reads “killed by British Forces”; full details of what is currently known about the killings can be found at Paper Trail.
Four more – Tony ‘TC’ Campbell, Ambrose Hardy, Brendan Maguire, John Loughran – were among those who came to the area of the initial shootings and were killed by British Army snipers from their positions on top of the flats, using night-vision sights.
The memorial mural in Donore Court was repainted for the event. From left to right, it shows Hardy, Maguire, Campbell, Loughran, Sloan, and McCann walking down New Lodge Road with (what was) Duncairn Presbyterian and (what was) the RUC station on the Antrim Road behind them. The previous (2011) version of the mural showed a body being carried whereas this new one shows them smiling as they walk, though still in the sights of a sniper’s rifle. Other changes were made: the six portraits in the medallions are now photographs rather than paintings; the background is green rather than pink.
In a 2020 reflection on the tenth anniversary of the Saville report, Eamonn McCann wrote: “Saville pointed the finger of blame at 10 rank and file soldiers and one allegedly undisciplined officer. The top brass and the politicians were, without exception, given a clean bill of health.” (Hot Press)
On the side wall to the new Bloody Sunday mural in Derry, the chain of command is found guilty war crimes in Northern Ireland on January 30th, 1972 – Bloody Sunday: “Guilty; Heath, Wilford, Ford, Kitson, Loden”. From the top down, the five people mentioned are:
Ted Heath, UK Prime Minister, 1970-1974
Frank Kitson, “counterinsurgency theorist” and commander of troops in Belfast 1970-1972 (History Ireland)
Robert Ford, commander of land forces 1971-1973, who wanted to block the march and make arrests in Creggan, and who wrote a January 7th memo suggesting that gaining control of Derry would require the shooting of “young hooligans” in Derry (The Irish Story).
Derek Wilford, commander of the 1st Parachute regiment on Bloody Sunday, who gave the order for soldiers to make arrests
Ted Loden, commander of ‘Support Company’, the soldiers that went into the Bogside.
The main panel shows General Sir Michael Jackson, second-in-command on Bloody Sunday and who acted as spokesperson for the event and provided the inaccurate account of the killings that was used by the media and the Widgery Report of April 1972 (see An Phoblacht and previously Jail Jackson for his connection to the Ballymurphy Massacre).
Update: By February 14th, the mural had been painted out – see final image, below.
On February 21st, 1988, 23 year-old Aidan McAnespie was shot in the back by 18 year-old Grenadier Guardsman David Holden at a British Army checkpoint in Aughnacloy, Co. Tyrone as he (McAnespie) walked to the nearby GAA club. In November (2022), Holden was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence (BBC | Belfast Live) and he was sentenced yesterday to three years, suspended for three years, thus avoiding jail unless he is sentenced for some additional crime (BBC | BelTel | UTv | Irish Times). He is the first British soldier convicted since the Agreement of a Northern Ireland killing; he might be the only one, as legislation is pending in Westminster that would end prosecutions (RTÉ video | Sky New video). The legacy legislation was discussed previously in Was This Lawful? | Soldier A-Z | Come For One, Come For All | Paras Fight Back | Stop The Witch Hunt.
The banner shown above was hanging on the railings at Laganside Courts, Oxford Street: “Operation Banner supporters group, Belafst and Scottish branch. Our veterans are heroes, not criminals. Leave our Operation Banner veterans alone and stop appeasing Sinn Fein/IRA terrorists.” “Operation Banner” is the name given by British forces to their operations in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 2007; since then, the depoloyment of British forces in Northern Ireland has been known as “Operation Helvetica” (Irish News).
Here is a gallery of images from the junction of Upper Movilla Street and Georges Street in Newtownards. In the image above, a handdrawn UDA emblem can be faintly seen, behind the modern board that has fallen down (possibly off a house in Wallaces Street). In a separate post, see IRA Council Demands.
The “now” in “now is the time to kneel” would seem to suggest that there is some inappropriate kneeling going on at some other time, besides as a mark of respect to the patriotic dead (in this case, Queen Elizabeth II, who died on September 8th) – perhaps the kneeling prior to Premier League soccer matches as a protest against racism (World Soccer Talk).
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”
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)