You Are Not Of This World

“This world isn’t worth your soul”. Religious graffiti on Lanark Way, based on Mark 8:36.

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And The Cry Was “Keine Kapitulation”

The third (and surely not the final?) season of the popular UK drama Brexit is keeping people guessing. This week, it looks like Boris might betray the ever-loyal Arlene and agree a Northern Ireland-only backstop with EU before time runs out on October 31st. In Belfast, lower Shankill residents are not amused by this potential turn of events and have invoked the classic “No surrender!” catch-phrase from 1688’s Siege Of Derry, painted on the wall between the security gates dividing Catholic and Protestant west Belfast. (Just kidding, of course; this is serious stuff. But the twists and turns are worthy of a telenovela. As Belfasters have always said, “If you’re not confused, you don’t know what’s going on.”)

Other recent messages below the Imagine mural: Victory To IsrealYour Wall, Your Border

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Wall On Wall

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 but dividing walls all over the world still stand. Kai Wiedenhöfer’s Wall On Wall exhibition comes to Belfast later in the month (the launch is September 27th at 4 pm), placing images of dividing walls on Belfast’s own dividing wall, the Cupar Way “peace” line. Shown above is the image of the wall in Al Bayya (Baiyya) in the Al Rashid district, part of the 700 km of walls in Baghdad, Iraq (Browse Gallery), which was pasted onto the “peace” line as a trial for the forthcoming exhibition. As usual, it has been vandalised by tourists and their patronising slogans (and political statements: “Hong Kong is part of China!”). Wiedenhöfer’s image of the Occupied Territories was on Free Derry Corner in 2013 (Derry Journal) and three images of Belfast were pasted onto the Berlin Wall in 2013 (Irish Times).

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Hoods Will Be Dealt With

AAD [Action Against Drugs] circulated lists of alleged drug dealers in north and west Belfast in July (Belfast Live), and in August members brandishing a gun and a club posed beside graffiti in the New Lodge urging residents to ‘take back their community’ (BelTel); there have also been attacks on the houses of alleged anti-social elements (BelTel). However, in much of the graffiti, such as the piece above threatening “drug dealers, hoods, and house breakers”, “AAD” has been scored out, indicating community dissatisfaction with the vigilantes.

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Brexit OK

The UK –including Northern Ireland – will leave the European Union on October 31st of this year (2019), perhaps resulting  in the return of a border between Northern Ireland and Éire. The departure has support from Unionists, including this graffitist in Oakdale Street, east Belfast.

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Can The Centre Hold?

In 2017 the New Lodge anti-internment bonfire was removed by the Housing Executive based on concerns that it was too close to buildings (BBC-NI) and in 2018 community negotiations arranged for it not to be built at all, in exchange for tickets to a Féile concert (Republican News | IRSP). But the bonfire is back this year, built directly on Queens Parade, and with it the anti-social behaviour that is thought by some (e.g. Alex Maskey) to be the real reason for the bonfire. “Such is the lawlessness,” reports the Irish News (one | two), that youths minding the fire have been seen powering an Xbox from a lamppost. Also, four nights of rioting (NewsLetter | iTV). In response to the growing attention, the graffiti above (“Our wood goes, this centre goes”) has appeared on a wall of the North Belfast Family Centre, along with graffiti threatening Sinn Féin councillor JJ Magee (see image below; Magee commented on the 2016 bonfire dispute in this Slugger article) and against any contractors who might be hired to remove the materials. As of 7 p.m. last night, the bonfire was still in place. If it has not been removed (by the Department Of Infrastructure) it will be lit tonight.

For the phrasing, see previously: Our Wood Goes Your Windows Go in Longlands.
For threats against contractors, see previously: Masked Republican Mercenaries.

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Make Your Mama Cry

“It’s no lie – drugs will make your mama cry!”Sisters Bridget and Geraldine McKay died within three weeks of each other, one from heroin and the other from prescription dugs (iTV | BelfastLiveBelTel). Between them, they leave nine children behind. The graffiti above is at the Colin transport hub, not far from Geraldine’s Suffolk Road home; Bridget lived in the New Lodge flats.

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None Of The Above

Writing by NOTA (None Of The Above) of TMN (The Most Nasty crew) for HTN19 in Kent Street, Belfast.
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Masked Republican Mercenaries

The Strategic Policy and Resources Committee of Belfast City Council decided on the 8th to remove two east Belfast bonfires built on council-owned land, carparks at the Avoniel leisure centre and in Ashdale Street, after staff arriving for work reported being threatened (BBC), perhaps by bonfire-builders reacting to the removal of tyres in Lismore Street (ITV) (see A Vote For The IRA). In response, builders of the Avoniel pyre removed its tyres, lowered its height, and moved it further away from buildings, but the Council affirmed its decision. A crowd of about 400 gathered to protect the site on Tuesday evening (BBC) and barricaded the site. The graffiti shown above appeared, calling contractors “masked republican mercenaries” and vowing that if they interfered they would “Attack loyalism at your own risk!!!” On Wednesday (1oth) the Council committee again affirmed its decision (Ailerain) but expressed concern over information of possible UVF involvement (Belfast Live) supplied in a letter from the PSNI (Mark Simpson).  (The mural is the background is a UDA one. See Northern Island.) The barricades were removed on Wednesday (as the image below shows). A contractor hired to remove the fire pulled out (BBC) on Wednesday evening. A “cultural celebration” was held throughout the night (BelTel).
The Ashdale Street fire was moved to a different location, near the Oval (BBC) and was set alight last night (BelTel).
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A Vote For The IRA

1,800 tyres were removed from the bonfire in Lismore Street this week by contractors in “armoured Land Rovers” (according to by Robert Girvin, East Belfast Cultural Collective, to the BBC; see this gallery of images at Belfast Live) working for Belfast City Council. PUP councillor John Kyle spoke out in favour of their removal (twitter | Belfast Live). Local residents have interpreted his comments as treasonous, with three pieces of graffiti painted in the area, one on Roseberry Road next to Young’s fish and chips (above), one on London Road (below), and at the bonfire site on Lismore Street (final image): “A vote for John Kyle is a vote for [the] IRA.” The graffiti has been criticised by unionists – PUP | DUP – though Jamie Bryson suggested that the Council was pushing unionists and the PSNI into conflict.

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