Forever Young

On this date twenty years ago (November 11th, 2001 – Remembrance Sunday) sixteen year-old Glen “Spacer” Branagh was killed by the premature blast of a pipe bomb he was carrying during a riot with New Lodge nationalists. He was affiliated with Tigers Bay First flute band – which held a memorial parade for him on October 16th (youtube) – and the UDA/UYM – for which see the old “Young Guns” mural on the site of the current Duncairn community garden. Distant relative Kenneth Branagh was also born in Tigers Bay (An Phoblacht), before leaving at age nine with his family in 1969 (WP); his film Belfast will be released in the USA tomorrow.

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X08591 [X08592] X08593 X08589 [X08590] N Queen St

A Place For Everyone

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“I loved it here, and still miss it. The characters that came into the shop … and I miss the craic!” The advertising hoardings at the corner of Ligoniel and Crumlin roads have been replaced with this community alcove with pavers and a space for “sharing positive stories together” at “the turn of the road” from Ballysillan towards Ligoniel village. The plaque to the UDA’s Bill Reynolds, which stood on the building where he was killed until the building was demolished (see the old plaque) and then replaced with a new plaque next to the hoarding, has been included.

“In loving memory [UDA] Lt. Col. Bill Reynolds murdered [by the IRA] 7-7-87. Always remembered by his family, friends and comrades. Quis separabit.”

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Defending Freedom From Hate

Compared to the UVF, the UDA more strongly detect an existential threat to loyalism and evince a siege mentality that provokes the need for armed resistance. Hence the more frequent presence of armed gunmen in UDA murals (which is also due in part to the UVF being able to “re-image” around the Ulster Volunteers and the Somme). With Brexit and the Protocol, however, armed gunmen have recently been appearing more frequently in UVF murals – see, for example, If Our Shores Are Threatened | Bang Up To Date | Our British Identity.

“Springmartin–Highfield–Glencairn Ulster Defence Association est. 1971. Defending freedom from hate.” As the companion mural (We Will Take Nothing Less) makes clear, the hate is coming from a “fascist republican enemy” (“Sinn Féin/IRA”, presumably) and the government of Ireland. Graphically, this mural is the same as the previous one on this wall: Under The Protection Of The UDA.

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Past And Present

The Castlereagh (4th battalion) UDA memorial garden behind the Bunch Of Grapes has changed over the years from painted murals (M | X) to spray-painted boards (We Forget Them Not) and now again to tarps within red frames. As far as content is concerned, the UFF, LPA (“We forget them not – past and present”) and UYM (“They shall not grow old etc”) remain but Tim Collins – a product of re-imaging – is out (see On That Journey) and Eddie The Trooper is in. The side wall of the pub has also been employed for the first time, with more hooded gunmen (see the third image, below). Two small plaques have been added to the outsides of the memorial wall.

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Rathfern Remembers

For the centenary of the end of WWI (in November 2018) a small board was added to the UFF’s South East Antrim Brigade mural in Rathfern.

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UDA Remembers

“[South East Antrim] UDA remembers. ‘They shall not grow old/As we that are left grow old/Age shall not wary them/Nor the years condemn/At the going down of the sun/And in the morning/We will remember them’ [The Fallen]” For the large mural, see The Men From Ballyclare & District. Charles Drive, Ballyclare.

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All Ulster’s Soldiers

“We support all Ulster’s soldiers.” The UDA and the UDR brought under the same umbrella of “Ulster’s defenders” in Charles Drive, Ballyclare. The UDR was established in 1970 to relieve the RUC and B Specials of military operations and was disbanded in 1992, in part because it was only 3% Catholic and 5-15% of members had links to loyalist paramilitaries (Irish News). 

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Better To Die On Your Feet

UDA volunteers in balaclavas stand ready to defend Erskine Park (Ballyclare) against forces from the south. “South East Antrim Brigade – “Better to die on your feet than to live on your knees in an Irish republic.” (A slogan from Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata.)

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X06940 X06939 [X06938] X06937 John Stewart 

Volunteer, Brigadier, Ulsterman

Tommy Herron was kidnapped and executed in September 1973, perhaps by members of his own East Belfast UDA brigade (Holland | BelTel). His 18-year-old brother-in-law had been killed at his house in June (WP). Despite the internal conflict over Herron’s position and profiteering, 25,000 people attended his funeral and hearkened to the word of the Reverend Ian Paisley (AP video | Patterson images). The video shows ranks of UDA volunteers marching in the procession; the mural was launched with (two) masked UDA volunteers flanking speaker Dee Stitt (for whom see previously Welcome To The Jungle) (BelTel).

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X06858 X06856 [X06857] kilcooley estate 1937-1973

The First Outbreak Of The Troubles

 

The plaque shown above sits in a memorial garden at the northern end of Disraeli Street, which in 1969 ran out onto the Crumlin Road between Hooker and Brookfield streets on the nationalist side, which saw intense rioting in August 1969 (see 90 Years Of Resistance; also Can It Change? for the lower Shankill). The UVF was founded in 1966 in response to the Civil Rights campaign and an IRA attack on Nelson’s statue in Dublin, and the WDA in June 1970 in response to escalating tensions along the upper Crumlin.

“The officers and volunteers “B” company Ulster Volunteer Force and the officers and volunteers “B” company Woodvale Defence Association remember with pride the people of the Woodvale area killed during the conflict. This plaque stands in the area which bore witness to the first outbreak of the troubles and is a symbol of the solidarity shown by the people of this community.

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