Our Nation As A Whole

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a bomb at a hotel in Dunmurry in April 1976, one month after Special Category Status for republican prisoners had been revoked.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

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X07823 Ardilea “They may hold our bodies in the most inhumane condition – But while our minds remain free our victory is assured.” Óglach Bobby Sands, MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, died on the 5th of May 1981 after 66 days on Hunger Strike.

The Old IRA

Cúchulainn stands dying; the raven on his shoulder will signal his death. “This memorial is dedicated to all the brave and gallant men and women of the Old IRA (Óglaigh na hÉireann) and Cumann na mBán who fought in all of the campaigns from the 1920s War of Independence onwards.”

The Irish tricolour with crossed rifles was the flag of the Irish Volunteers (Óglaigh na hÉireann), the splits in which gave rise all the subsequent IRAs.

For a roll of honour 1916-1966, including some profiles, see Treason Felony.

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Balmoral Showrooms

The fact that there are three memorials to the Balmoral Furniture bombing speaks to the shock felt at devastating bomb on a busy Shankill Road. The oldest is the small circular plaque: “Balmoral Furniture Showrooms bombed 12.25pm Saturday 11th December 1971. 2 adults & 2 babies killed”; then the Poppy Cross “in memory of the two men and two babies murdered at this spot by a no warning sectarian IRA bomb attack on the Balmoral Furniture shop on 11th December 1971.” and finally the traditional plaque, which names the victims: Colin Nicholl, Tracey Jane Munn, Harold King, Hugh Bruce.

On the side of the Shankill Leisure Centre.

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Rally Us Again

“Active service” on paramilitary plaques means death by a premature bomb explosion rather than at the hands of enemy forces. All three of the IRA volunteers named here died in this way: Paul Fox in King Street in 1975, Sean Bailey in nearby Nansen Street in 1976, and Paul Marlowe on the Ormeau Road later that same year (Sutton). The central plaque (shown below) has been in place since at least 2006 but was augmented last year with portraits. The fourth is Tony Campbell, also from the 2nd battalion, dead by natural causes in 1985.

“I ndíl chuimhne ar Óglach Paul Fox A-Coy 2 Batt Belfast Brigade, died on active service 1-12-1975, Óglach Sean Bailey A-Coy 2 Batt Belfast Brigade, died at this location on active service 13-2-1976, Óglach Paul Marlowe A-Coy 2 Batt Belfast Brigade, died on active service 16-10-1976, Óglach Tony Campbell died of natural causes 4-8-1985. I measc laochra na hÉireann atá siad. In every generation we have renewed the struggle and so it will be to the end. When England thinks she has trampled out our blood in battle, some brave men and women rise and rally us again.”

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Pray For Us

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”.

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Her Old Tradition Of Nationhood

“Saoradh salute the men and women of violence,” namely the signatories to the 1916 Proclamation, the women of the 1970s IRA, and modern “dissidents” with home-made weapons.

The plaque on the left is to the IRA’s Pearse Jordan, next to the centenary celebration of the Proclamation, Ag Fíorú Na Poblachta. The board was been moved to this Falls Road location from Ardoyne; it replaces an anti-RUC/PSNI mural.

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Ghosts Of The Supermarket

Earl Street and Sussex Street used to be sandwiched between wings of the largest tobacco factory in the world, Gallahers, which took up seven acres between York Street and North Queen Street. The factory was partially demolished in 1990 and became Yorkgate shopping centre and the two streets are roughly now the back and front entrances to the Tesco supermarket. These two plaques (both on North Queen Street) are to former residents. William Campbell, a H&W joiner, might have witnessed the construction of Gallahers (in 1897 – Look Again) before dying on Titanic in 1914. Francis Liggett, an IRA volunteer, was shot and killed by British forces during an attempted robbery of the Royal. (He is also remembered in a mural in St James’s near the site of his death and home – see Liggett & Brady.)
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X06907 X06908 “William Campbell, an Apprentic Joiner at Harland & Wolff, lived in Earl Street, a site now occupied by the shopping centre. He was a member of the company’s Guarantee Group for RMS Titanic and lost his life on the voyage.” “Francis died on 18th January 1973 on IRA active service on the grounds of RVH hospital. Francis was shot dead dead by undercover British soldiers after an exchange of gun fire. 27th January 1948 – 18th January 1973. Francis family home was close to this spot.”

Sinn Féin IRA’s Golden Boy

We are now a week away from Westminster elections (December 12th). John Finucane is standing for Sinn Féin in Belfast North but this banner is at the top of the Shankill, intended to stir up animosity towards Sinn Féin, and support for DUP candidates, in all constituencies.

The same banner was hung in Tigers’ Bay, York Street, Antrim, and Ballymena, though the Tigers’ Bay one was removed because it was on council property (News Letter).

The banner presents a gallery of Finucane’s relatives John Snr, Dermot, Seamus, and Pat: “The real Finucane family  – human rights abusers – steeped in the blood of our innocents.” The (former) IRA involvement of the three uncles is well documented. Controversially, Sean O’Callaghan (in the Daily Telegraph) alleged that father Pat Finucane was in the IRA, contrary to the findings of the de Silva report into collusion: “Pat Finucane was first and foremost an IRA volunteer, and he exploited his position [as a solicitor with access to prisoners] ruthlessly to wage his war on the state.” The source of the claim that Finucane is the chosen candidate of the PIRA Army Council is unknown. Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald called the banners “dangerous” (RN). The Belfast Telegraph reported that the Shankill banner was ordered by an alleged planner of Pat Finucane’s assassination, Jim Spence of the UDA (BelTel).

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McVerry & McElvanna

IRA volunteer Mickey McVerry was killed by the British Army during a bomb attack on Keady RUC station in 1973. Peadar McElvanna was killed by the British Army on June 9, 1979, outside Keady, south Armagh. The 40th anniversary commemoration this year drew criticism from the DUP as it was on the same weekend as a ‘time for truth’ rally in Belfast (BelTel). The memorial shown here is in Victoria

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They Were Faithful And They Fought

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.”

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