Central Drive

Creggan sports centre opened in October 2009 (Leisure Opportunities) and part of the architecture was to cover the brick exterior with five plain-white panels along Central Drive. These have been taken over by Saoradh/IRPWA, this year to protest the extradition, internment, and treatment of republican prisoners, commemorate the 1981 hunger strikers, support Palestine, and threaten drug dealers.

For the graffiti, see End Internment Of Jason Ceulemans

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A Perennial War

Here is the scene at Kells Walk/Rossville St in the Bogside.

From left to right:

O’Hara-Devine mural

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”

End British Political Policing (Saoradh (web))

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)

40th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike: described previously in For A Socialist Republic (IRSM/IRSP)

“Peace” mural (with cross) from the Bogside Artists

In the shot above, our photographer has intervened and stood up the last panel of the “1981” board.

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50th Anniversary

Three months after it was initially whitewashed (mid June, 2022), the repaint of so-called “Freedom Corner” is now complete, with a new mural on each of the 11 panels that make it up. Today’s post is a gallery of fifteen images from the new wall. The main gables reproduce photographs of the UDA (and more specifically the East Belfast brigade) during the 1970s. The side walls celebrate the formation of the UDA/LPA/UFF/UYM in 1971-1974 and the role of women in supporting prisoners.

By Blaze FX (Fb | ig) on the Newtownards Road. Here is a small gallery of in-progress images: Waiting For The Wall. The ‘five flags’ also appear in An Act Of Betrayal.

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Republican Prisoners Still Exist!

“Foremost in my tortured mind is the thought that there can never be peace in Ireland until the foreign, oppressive British presence is removed, leaving all the Irish people as a unit to control their own affairs and determine their own destinies as a sovereign people, free in mind and body, separate and distinct physically, culturally and economically.” The quote is from day one of Bobby Sands’s hunger strike diary (March 1st, 1981) and the photograph is a 2007 image of a cell in the H-4 (Irish Times).

“Maghaberry – Portlaoise – Hydebank. Republican prisoners still exist!” IRPWA (web) board on Divis St, Belfast, replacing the Sands & Hughes mural – see Cairde Agus Comrádaithe.

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Ballykinlar Internment Camp

Ballykinlar barracks in County Down was originally Abercorn barracks, used by the British to intern IRA prisoners during the War Of Independence, and the use continued under the new Northern Irish government (WP); the camp held about 2,000 prisoners (McGuffin, ch. 5). The prisoners attempted to maintain their military structure and perform drills; they created a currency using cardboard discs (images can be seen at Old Currency Exchange) – and, as a way to keep up morale, worked on “autograph books” in which prisoners would write dedications and verses for one another and occasionally draw pictures. The pages shown here are from books currently exhibited in Monaghan County Museum; Offaly Archives has digitised an autograph book; a few more images from a book in the Kilmainham collection can be seen at the BBC.

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Honour, Loyalty, Liberty, Sacrifice

A new backdrop – of a field of poppies beneath a blue sky– has been added to the UFF memorial garden in Tigers Bay. The four stones/plaques in the garden are shown below in the order that they were added to the garden, starting with two to the North Belfast Brigade that were present in 2008 (see M04397). The third was a roll of honour of the “Scottish Brigade North Ayrshire”. The fourth is generically to “those we have loved and lost” but contains a strand of barbed wire, symbol of POWs.

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Chemical Warfare In Ireland

This is the third mural (see 2014 The Maze Ablaze and 2018 The Battle Of Long Kesh) on the so-called “International Wall” on Divis Street about the ‘Battle Of Long Kesh’, when republican prisoners tried to burn down the cages in protest at living conditions in the camp. CR gas had recently been developed by the British MoD at a lab in Porton Down and is alleged to have been “used against Irish POWs”.

Brady & Faul wrote an 80-page report on the conditions at the camp following the event, entitled The Flames Of Long Kesh. “Telegram to International Red Cross: ‘ … Visited Long Kesh today with others … request immediate investigation into use of “CR gas” … sub-human conditions … SOS … come immed[i]ately’ – 20 Oct 1974, Brian Brady & Fr. Denis Faul”.

The photograph which the central part of the mural reproduces is HU 70205 from the Imperial War Museum’s collection.

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Victory To The Republican Prisoners

Victory to the republican political prisoners from across the ages – “H-Block to Maghaberry” – but also from Ireland to Palestine.

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Their Blood Our Cause Has Sanctified

For the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike, portraits of the deceased ten (plus Frank Stagg and Michael Gaughan from the 1970s) were placed on the railings of the Ballymurphy memorial garden. There is a new (compared to 2006 and 2008) set of plaques, erected in 2017:

“A Letter To The 22: You have not gone away, you are in the hearts and on the lips of your people. The old speak of you with knowing tongue. The middle aged, as those who worked beside you. The young men and women with a passion not unlike your own. Your names can be heard on the wind taken from the mouths of men who tend their flocks on Slieve Gullion, Cnoc Phadraig, Glenshane. They echo in the small graveyards in Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Tyrone, Antrim, Derry and Armagh. They are heard among your people at the mass gate on Sunday in the crowd at the hurling game, around the hearth when the bottle is cracked and song is sung. Your image can be seen on the faces of happy smiling children for whose freedom you gave your all. You are in our prayers you have not gone away, you never will. Mise le meas Colm Mac Giolla Bhein 2006. This monument was erected by the Ballymurphy Ex POWs in memory of the 22 hunger strikers who died for the cause of Irish freedom. It was unveiled on the hundredth anniversary of Thomas Ash[e] who was the first republican to die on hunger strike in 1917. He died after five days while being force fed. Thomas Ash[e] an these 21 brave Irish men stood by their beliefs and refused to be criminalised. Fuair siad bás ar son shaoirse na hÉireann. I measc laochra na nGael go raibh siad.”

For the mural, with NHS board, see Pray For Us.

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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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