A six-week lockdown began at midnight last night with restrictions including an overnight curfew and an end to all “close contact” services (Belfast Live). Shown today are two of larger posters in Sinn Féin’s ‘wear a mask’ campaign, featuring Paul Maskey and Fra McCann, MP and MLA for Belfast West.
In the foreground is a banner in support of (former) ETA member Patxi Ruiz, who quit his 31-day hunger strike protesting prison abuse yesterday (2020-06-10). He is serving 30 years for the 1998 murder of a Pamplona city councillor (ABC). “Tá muid libh! [We are with you!] Espetxeak apurtu! [Break the prisons!]”
“Social distancing” during the coronavirus epidemic means maintaining a physical distance in social situations rather than not having any communication with society. On the contrary, communities are working together perhaps more closely than normal in order to assist those who are in need of support. The Sinn Féin board, above, on the railings of the Duncairn Centre (web | tw) (formerly Duncairn Presbyterian). Identical signs at the Waterworks and Cherryvale drew comment from Alliance as being party-political in shared spaces (BelTel).
The Sinn Féin logo takes the place of the service’s emblem (which already contains a harp and a shamrock) on the cap of a PSNI officer. “Police Service Of Northern Ireland – destroying the loyalist community since 4th nov. 2001. In the pocket of Sinn Fein [sic]”.
Here is a final image from the election campaign for the December 12th Westminster elections, a plastic board on the fence around the construction site on Alliance Avenue, inviting voters to “make history” by returning a nationalist MP in Belfast North, specifically Sinn Féin’s John Finucane.
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).
Brexit means … borders, job losses, medicine shortages, and more. It takes all of the colours of the rainbow to set what Sinn Féin believes its consequences would be. The Sinn Féin candidate in Belfast North is John Finucane, in a close contest with the DUP’s Nigel Dodds: see The Anti-Brexit Candidate.
“The only anti-Brexit candidate who can win!” After the withdrawal of the UUP and SDLP candidates, the contest in Belfast North is essentially between Sinn Féin’s John Finucane and the DUP’s Nigel Dodds. In an attempt to attract voters from the absent parties, Finucane’s campaign hoardings have eschewed the traditional green of Sinn Féin in favour of blue, a colour normally associated with unionism (and conservativism in Britain).
The Westminster election called by Boris Johnson and the Conservatives for December 12th has become a referendum on Brexit, with a pro-Remain pact between the Liberal Democrats, Greens, and Plaid Cymru in 60 British constituencies (BBC). In Northern Ireland, manoeuvring got under way with UDA threats against any UUP candidate who might stand in Belfast North (News Letter). The UUP, which had previously committed itself to stand in all 18 NI constituencies, withdrew (BBC), as did the SDLP (BelTel), leaving the contest essentially between the (pro-Brexit) DUP’s Nigel Dodds and (anti-Brexit) Sinn Féin’s John Finucane (shown second from left). Finucane is current Belfast Mayor but is presented here as part of a “republican family”: he is son of murdered lawyer Pat Finucane (fourth from left) and Shankill bomber Sean Kelly (WP) was seen canvassing for him. The vote in North Belfast is expected to be close. The current Brexit proposal involves customs checks in the Irish Sea (BBC), but the DUP will be hoping for No-Deal or the end to the NI backstop.
For analysis of North Belfast and all of the NI seats, see Bangor Dub.