A Citizens’ Assembly

The Citizens’ Assembly is a group of 99 randomly-chosen Irish citizens, plus a chair, that considers large-scale issues over the course of months. It began in 2016 by taking up the Eighth Amendment on abortion, the “pensions timebomb” fixed-term parliaments, voter turnout and referendums, and climate change – it is not restricted, like its predecessor the Constitutional Convention, to constitutional issues (WP). The 2020-2021 Assembly considered gender equality and biodiversity loss. Sinn Féin called for an Assembly on Irish unity at its November (2022) Ard Fheis (Irish Examiner | Derry Journal | youtube panel) and Belfast City Council passed an SDLP motion to recommend that the Taoiseach form an Assembly (News Letter); in December, the Dublin City Council approved a measure calling for an Assembly to consider the topic (SF).

“The Irish government should establish a citizens’ assembly on Irish unity/tionól na saoránach ar aontú na hÉireann.” Sinn Féin’s preferred outcome of such a process is given at the bottom of the board: “#Time4Unity/Am d’Aontacht”. The images show the board in north Belfast (Limestone Road) and south Belfast (Cromac Street).

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A Wall For All

A new braille plaque bearing the now-iconic saying “You are now enterting Free Derry” was unveiled last Tuesday (January 24th) by the founder of Children In Crossfire Richard Moore (featured previously in The Derry Lama) who was blinded in 1972 when he was hit with a rubber bullet.

Derry Journal has a gallery of images from the launch.

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Spared To Testify To Their Glorious Deeds

A history of the 36th (Ulster) Division in three panels along Knockwood Crescent in south Belfast:

1914 – Sons Of Ulster Answering The Call – 1915: “Ulster Division – a great military parade will take place at Belfast on Saturday, May 8, 1915. The troops of the Ulster Division numbering 17,000 men will be on parade. Cavalry, infantry, pioneers, engineers, signallers, cyclists corps, Army service corps and Army medical corps. Men and women of Ulster come and see the greatest military display every helf in Ulster, and do honur to your own Division. God save the King.” The original poster can be seen at Wartime Memories. “‘Quit yourselves like men and comply with your country’s demands.’ – Sir Edward Carson.” With a picture of “the inspection of the 36th (Ulster) Division by King George [V] 30th September 1915.

1916 – For God, For King & For Country – 1917: “The Battle of Albert (1st – 13th July) 1916. The leading battalions of the 46th (Ulster) Division) had been ordered out from Thiepval Wood just before 7.30am and laid down near the German trenches … At zero hour the British barrage lifted. Bugles blew the “Advance”. Up sprang the Ulstermen and without forming up in the waves adopted by other divisions, they rushed the German front line …… By a combination of sensible tactics and Ulster dash, the prize that eluded so many, the capture of a long section of the German front line, had been accomplished. During the Battle of the Somme the (Ulster) Division was the only division of X Corps (British Army) to have achieved its objectives on the opening day of the battle. This came at a heavy price, with the division suffering in two days of fighting 5,500 officers and enlisted men killed, wounded or missing. Of nine Victoria Crosses given to British forces in the battle, 4 were awarded to 36th (Ulster) Division soldiers.” With quotes from Wilfrid Spender (see I Would Rather Be An Ulsterman), and the poem We Shall Keep The Faith by Moina Michael. Please get in touch if you can identify the photo of soldiers going off to war at the top.

1918 – Their Name Liverth For Evermore – 1919: “Whether town dweller or country lad, volunteer or regular, officer or other rank, Catholic or Protestant, the sons of Ulster knew a comradeship and a trust in adversity that should be a lesson to us all.” “36th (Ulster) Division 32,186 killed, wounded, missing. The [Ulster] tower is dedicated to the glory of God in grateful memory of the officers, non commussioned officers and men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, and the sons of Ulster in other forces who laid down their lives in the Great War, and of all their comrades in arms who, by divine grace, were spared to testify to their glorious deeds.”

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Our Children Deserve More

BUILD Shankill now has a website that promises to provide (in the future) “a full inventory of vacant and derelict land in the area”. In the meantime, the campaign to bring attention to housing issues in the area continues with placards and tarps:

“Our children deserve more than dereliction – Better Understanding In Local Development (BUILD)”

“Did you know? The Shankill has over 80 waste sites the size of 62 football pitches with the space to build 3300 homes. #BuildShankill.” For a mural-sized version of this tarp (in the third image) over one of the pieces of waste ground, see #BuildShankill.

Also included is a tarp at Mayo Street (previously the site of Sinn Féin/IRA’s Golden Boy) from Greater Shankill Youth Connects (Fb) promoting their “Shankill Talks” forums: “90% of young people in this area say it’s easy to access drugs/alcohol.”

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Men From The Fountain

All three major WWI memorials with relevance to Ulster – Thiepval Memorial, Menin Gate, Ulster Tower – are brought together in a gallery in Londonderry’s Fountain as part of a tribute to the “Men from the Fountain who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War.”

“Thiepval Memorial: The Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme is a war memorial to 72,195 missing British and South African servicemen, who died in the battles of the Somme of the First World War between 1915 and 1918, with no known grave. It was built in red brick and limestone between 1928 and 1932. It is near the village of Thiepval, Picardy in France. A visitors’ centre opened in 2004.”

“Menin Gate: The Menin Gate memorial to the missing is a war memorial in Ypres, Belgium, dedicated to the 54,395 British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres salient of World War I and whose graves are unknown. The memorial is located at the eastern exit of the town and marks the starting point for one of the main roads out of the town that led Allied soldiers to the front line. The Menin Gate memorial was unveiled on 24 July 1927.”

“Ulster Tower: The Ulster Tower is Northern Ireland’s national war memorial. It was one of the first memorials to be erected on the western front and commemorates the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division and all those from Ulster who served in the First World War. The memorial was officially opened on 19 November 1921 and is a very close copy of Helen’s Tower which stands in the grounds of the Clandeboye estate, near Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland. Many of the men of the Ulster division trained in the estate before moving to England and then France early in 1916. The Tower is staffed by members of the Somme Association, which is based in Belfast.”

Previously the site of In God We Trust.

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100 Years

On the left of this memorial board in Carrickfergus are five portraits from the later life of the child who began life in Greece as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark. The family was exiled during the Greco-Turkish War. He ended up in Britain where he later joined the navy and stopped using his titles when he became the British subject, Philip Mountbatten. When he married Elizabeth he became Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His life-time matches that of the Northern Irish state (see in the second image): he was born a month after its creation and died in 2021 at the age of 99, a month shy of its centenary.

Albert Road and Thomas Street, Carrickfergus, near the Orange lodge, for which see On Foreign Fields.

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Bowtown Thanks You

Bowtown (Newtownards) marks the passing of Elizabeth Windsor in September, 2022, at the age of 96 and after 70 years as monarch of the United Kingdom and various Commonwealth realms, with two boards at the junction of Abbot Drive and Movilla Road: “Her majesty Queen Elizabeth II – the Bowtown est[ate] thanks you for your service 1926-2022.” “Her majesty Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022 – grief is the price we pay for love.”

Previously: Your Local Supplier.

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Our British Identity

Various changes and additions have been made to the Ulster Volunteers/UVF mural in London Road, east Belfast, compared to the version that replaced a religious mural (Jesus Strong Man) in 2017. The ‘hooded gunman’ board seen in the image above previously replaced a Union Flag in London Road (see East Belfast Ulster Volunteers) but has now been moved to the main Our Lady’s Road: “Our British identity cannot & will not be sacrificed to appease the Irish Republic – East Belfast Battalion [UVF]”.

The side-wall has been modified, to include a UVF emblem and larger lettering for “East Belfast Ulster Volunteer Force”.

For close-ups of the WWI portion, painted by Mark Ervine, see Between The Crosses; for a close-up of the four portraits of volunteers Seymour, Long, Cordner, and Bennett, see Ulster’s Brave.

Images courtesy of Paddy Duffy.

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The Present Conflict

“Greenisland 3rd Battalion, South-East Antrim Brigade [UDA]. This memorial is dedicated to the memory of the officers and members of our organisation who were murdered by the enemies of Ulster and to those who paid the extreme sacrifice whilst on active service during the present conflict. Quis separabit. UFF. UDA, LPA”

Glassillan Court, Greenisland.

Image courtesy of Paddy Duffy.

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Old Carrick Hill

In addition to fifteen printed boards, the collection of images of “Carrick Hill in the old days” now includes a mural, of two women talking in the street. The board in the second image shows Pepper Hill Steps before the turn of the twentieth century. The steps used to lead from Mustard Street (which was what Library Street used to be) towards Upper Library Street (now Carrick Hill, the street). Other boards (not shown) show street games, street parties, and Alton United football club, a team founded in 1921 that played in the Falls League and won the 1923 Free State Cup Final (Bohs Sporting Life).

At the corner of Stanhope Street and Regent Street in Carrick Hill.

Images courtesy of Paddy Duffy.

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