The International Wall (Divis Street)

Introduction
The so-called “International Wall” on Divis Street marks the entry into republican west Belfast. As you travel out from the city centre, you cross the motorway and come to Divis Tower, a block of high-rise flats. Beginning in 2003, a wall just below Divis Tower was painted with murals and it also serves as a gateway to the area, especially in 2011 when it gained ‘Welcome To West Belfast’ and ‘Coiste Tours’ murals. (There was also for a long time – 1988 to 2000 – a large religious mural on the Morning Star hostel, which seemed to usher one into another world). But shortly above Divis Tower you turn a corner and it is no longer possible to see downtown behind you. You pass between the stately Northern Bank building and the elevated St Comgall’s, and looking ahead into the broadening terrain, you see the mountain in the distance and a wall, about 68 metres (222 feet) in length, covered in murals. When you see the International Wall, you know you have definitely entered a distinctive place, and the wall serves as a manifesto of the community. It’s somewhat surprising then, that having left the supposedly cosmopolitan city centre, the concerns of nationalist west Belfast reach out across the globe.
In early days, the wall sometimes sported electoral posters but in general went unused until the year 2000, which is after the Good Friday Agreement. This is perhaps because of the British Army observation post on the top of Divis Tower (it would not be dismantled until late 2005) and because the wall is a perimeter wall of a commercial enterprise (Andrews Flour), which also gave the area something of an industrial feel.
At first, it was not “the international wall”. The first mural was a long stencil to victims of plastic bullets, showing in 1:1 scale the distances at which they had been shot. This was gradually replaced with murals and boards, moving from left to right, including, though not exclusively, pieces in support of international causes: by 2002 there were panels about Palestine, Turkish “F-Block” hunger strikers, and imprisoned Native American Leonard Peltier.
The very first spot on the left-hand side of the wall, which is partly obscured by a traffic signal, was not painted until 2006, when a mural to “the first blanket man” Kieran Nugent was painted. Brendan “The Dark” Hughes, IRA OC in Long Kesh until he and several others went on hunger strike in 1980, was later (2008) added. Since 2006 a mural or board to Nugent (and Hughes) has continuously graced the wall, almost always in this spot.
2006 was also the year in which the wall was completely filled for the first time. The last spot (on the far right) was given a mural to Liam MacCarthy (of the MacCarthy Cup), replacing a small ETA mural, some boards, a stencil, and graffiti, which together did not cover the entire wall.
In addition to a Nugent/Hughes mural (in the #1 spot), the wall has almost always had a pro-Palestine mural (immediately following Nugent), a POW or “dissident” mural (immediately follow that), and, starting in 2003, a ‘black taxi’ mural (about two-thirds of the way along, but in various positions).
Murals were later also painted on the adjacent wall on Northumberland Street and contains many internationally-themed murals and as such can now be considered just as much a part of the international wall as Divis Street. There is a separate page giving a visual history of Northumberland Street. The wall was filled (up to the first set of security gates, at least) by 2014.

References in parentheses: M = Peter Moloney collection; J = Jonathan McCormick collection

X = Extramural Activity collection
For individual histories of each part of the wall, please see the map.

2000-04: Peter Meddlesome “Telling Lies! Who Me?” (description – but no image – at J0423) – Ban Plastic Bullets

 

2001: Blank – Ógra Shinn Féin –  RUC Must Go – Castlerea Five – Peter Meddlesome “Slan Abhaile and don’t forget your passport” – Ban Plastic Bullets – Tommy Crossan/Spoil Your Vote graffiti
2002: Blank – Ógra Shinn Féin –  RUC Must Go – remains of Castlerea Five (above)/white Maghaberry (below) – Our Actions Are Political -(this is not the one on the Divis Steet wall) – remains of Ban Plastic Bullets – Join Now Eire Nua – Political Status Now + Tommy Crossan (above) + ETA + Support the hunger-strikers in Turkey (below)
(M01989 this is not the one on the Divis Steet wall)
2002-later: Blank – Palestine V/Palestine/Tricolour V – Maghaberry barbed wire – Our Actions Are Political – Turkish Hunger Strike (2001) – Saoirse Do Peltier – remains of Ban Plastic Bullets – Join Now Eire Nua + Political Status Now + Tommy Crossan (above) + ETA + Support the hunger-strikers in Turkey (below)
2002 wide shot. About two-thirds of Ban Plastic Bullets remain.

M01755+(M01755)

 

2004 line-up: Blank – Palestine V/Palestine/Tricolour V – Maghaberry barbed wire – Our Actions Are Political – Turkish Hunger Strike (2001) – Saoirse Do Peltier – PSNI Spot the difference (with red paint over Ban Plastic Bullets; fl. 2003) – WBTA (yellow paint over Ban Plastic Bullets, fl. 2003) – Cherish The Children blue paint over Ban Plastic Bullets – Operation Iraqi Liberation (2004-08) – Castilla Nacion (2003-09) – Llibertat Països Catalans – Join Now Eire Nua + Political Status Now + Tommy Crossan (above) + ETA (below) + Support the hunger-strikers in Turkey (below)

(M02001)

(M02002)

(M02221)

(X00094)

(M02217)

(M02216)

2004 wide shot. Ban Plastic Bullets is entirely gone; the first spot remains unpainted; the last spot remains a number of small boards and a mural and a stencil.M02224+(M02224)

2005: Blank – Palestine V/Palestine/Tricolour V – Maghaberry barbed wire – Our Actions Are Political – Turkish Hunger Strike (2001) – Bodenstown – WBTA – Cherish The Children – Operation Iraqi Liberation (2004-08) – Castilla Nacion (2003-09) – Llibertat Països Catalans – Join Now Eire Nua – Political Status Now + Tommy Crossan (above) + ETA + Support the hunger-strikers in Turkey (below)

(Mo2578)

January 2006 line-up: Nugent – Palestine V/Palestine/Tricolour V – Maghaberry barbed wire – Douglass (2006-02?) – Bodenstown – WBTA Gabhal An Chaisleain black paint over Ban Plastic Bullets – Fight Bigotry – Operation Iraqi Liberation (2004-08) – Llibertat Països Catalans – Join Now Eire Nua + Political Status Now + Tommy Crossan (above) + ETA + Support the hunger-strikers in Turkey (below)

(M02576)

(X00297)

(M02580)

(M02579)

With the addition of Nugent, the wall is now full, though the last spot (far right) is something of a mess. It will be cleaned up with the addition of MacCarthy.

2006: Nugent – Palestine V/Palestine/Tricolour V – Maghaberry barbed wire – Douglass (2006-02?) – Bodenstown – Manchester Martyrs shamrock – Fight Bigotry – Operation Iraqi Liberation (2004-08) – WBTA Sands – National Hunger Strike Rally – blank/in preparation (for ‘No Imperialist Intervention In Iran‘ J2803) – MacCarthy

(M02884)

(M02883)

(M02882)

(X00303)

2006 wide shot (M02885) Although Iran and MacCarthy on the right are not visible in this shot, the wall is now completely covered in murals.

M02885+

?July? 2007: Nugent – Palestine V/Palestine/Tricolour V – Maghaberry barbed wire – Douglass (2006-02?) – Bodenstown – Manchester Martyrs shamrock – Fight Bigotry – Operation Iraqi Liberation (2004-08) – WBTA Sands – Collusion Was Not Only Not An Illusion – Stop Plan Bush – McCarthy

(M03523)

(M03522)

2007 wide shot M03525+(M03525)

December 2007 line-up: Nugent – Palestine V/Palestine/Tricolour V – Maghaberry barbed wire  – Douglass (2006-02?) – Guernica (2007-08; original plaque at right unveiled by Gerry Adams August 12 – the Guernica and Gaza bombs were added later) – Brigadas Internacionales (2007-08) – Operation Iraqi Liberation (2004-08) – WBTA tricolour/8 pounds – blank bookmark – Askatasuna – Stop Plan Bush – MacCarthy

(X00299)

(M03789)

(X00294)

July 2008 (Google Maps) line-up: Nugent/Hughes (2008-02 Hughes “was added into the [Nugent] mural after he passed away in February 2008” 2012 International Wall Calendar) – Palestine We Will ReturnMaghaberry IRPWA – Museum bookmark + Sinn Féin Out and then Wolfe Tone – Douglass (2006-02?) – Guernica (2007-08) – Manchester Martyrs red – Operation Iraqi Liberation (2004-08) (rhs modified in 2009 to include Palestine flag and figures) – WBTA Trax – Meehan bookmark – Askatasuna – Stop Plan Bush – MacCarthy

(M03991)

(M03990)

(X00304)

(M03987)

(M03986)

replaced by Wolfe Tone …(M04460)

(X00307)

(M04459)

(M03983)

June 2009 line-up: Nugent/Hughes (M03991 2008-02) – Palestine We Will Return with Barbarian Israeli Aggression (2009) – Maghaberry IRPWA – Museum bookmark + Wolfe Tone – Douglass (2006-02?) – Guernica (2007-08) – Manchester Martyrs red – Arkansas ’57/Ardoyne ’01/South Belfast ’09 (2009) – WBTA Trax purple – Meehan bookmark -Askatasuna – Cuba 50 years (2009) – McCarthy

(M04821)

(X00293)

(M04818)

(X00296)

2010 line-up: Nugent/Hughes (2008-02) – Palestine We Will Return with Barbarian Israeli Aggression (2009) – Maghaberry IRPWA – Museum bookmark + Wolfe Tone – Douglass (2006-02?) – Guernica (2007-08) – Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta – Raidió Fáilte – Falls Curfew – WBTA Trax purple – Meehan bookmark – Askatasuna – Cuba 50 years (2009) – MacCarthy

(M05634)

(M05635)

(X00597)

2010 wide shot (M05638)

M05638+

March 2011 line-up, also July 2011: Nugent/Hughes (2008-02) – Palestine We Will Return with Barbarian Israeli Aggression (2009) – Maghaberry IRPWA – Museum bookmark + Cell – Relatives Action Committee (2010) – Guernica (2007-08) – Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta – Raidió Fáilte – Falls Curfew – WBTA Trax purple – Meehan bookmark – Askatasuna – Cuba 50 years (2009) – Oppose Racism (2010)

(M08138)

(M06467)

(M06468)

September 2012 line-up: Nugent/Hughes (2008-02) – Palestine 4,400 political prisoners (2012) – Maghaberry End Strip Searches (2011) – Museum bookmark + Cell – Relatives Action Committee (2010) – Guernica (2007-08) – Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta – Raidió Fáilte – Falls Curfew – WBTA Get The Real Story (2012-07) – Hunger Strikers/Frank Stagg (2011) – Cuba Free The Five – Anti-Racism Roma

(M08095)

(M07522)

(M08771)

(M07524)

(M08097)

(X00581)

2013-02-28 line-up: Nugent/Hughes (2008-02) – Palestine 4,400 political prisoners (2012) – Maghaberry End Strip Searches (2011) – Museum bookmark + Cell – Free Marian Price bookmark – Milltown 25th – Guernica (2007-08) – Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta – Local Volunteers – Falls Curfew – WBTA Get The Real Story (2012-07) – Hunger Strikers/Frank Stagg (2011) – Cuba Free The Five – Anti-Racism Roma

(M09249)
(M09248)
2013 wide shot (X00982)2013-02-28 MilltownWide+
2013-08-08 line-up: Nugent/Hughes (2008-02) – Palestine 4,400 political prisoners (2012) – End Internment (2013) – Museum bookmark (M03987) + Cell (M08138) – Free Marian Price bookmark (M09249) – Milltown 25th (M09248) – Guernica (X00299 2007-08) – Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta (M05634) – Local Volunteers (X00671) – Falls Curfew (X00597) – WBTA Get The Real Story (2012-07 M08771) – Hunger Strikers/Frank Stagg (2011 M07524) – Cuba Free The Five (M08097) – Anti-Racism Roma (X00581)
Images, first from the left (X01245), and just below, from the right (X01246).
2013-08-08 IntWallLeft+
 
2013-08-08 IntWallRight+
2013-09 Gaeltacht Quarter replaces previous Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta
(X01324)
2013-10 Free Otegi replaces Never Actually Existed/Roma
2013-12 Alec Reid bookmark replaces Marian Price bookmark
(M10656)
2014-02-28 Obama Holds The Key partially replaces Guernica
(M10793)
2014-03-04 Maze Ablaze partially replaces Guernica
2014-05-03 Gerry Adams replaces Falls Curfew
(X03002)
and is replaced within the month by
2014-05-28 Time For Our Truth
2014-06-02 Say No To Racism replaces Cuba Free The Five
2014-07-18 Gaza/Napalm replaces 4,400 political prisoners
2014-08-09 Scairt Amach replaces End Internment (2013)
(X02069)
2014-08-17 Equality For Travellers replaces Say “No” To Racism
2014-09-28 Stop Tory Cuts incompletely replaces The Big Plan
 (X02255)
2014-10-25 Catalan Vote replaces Hughes/Nugent
(X02310)
2014-10-27 line-up: Catalan Vote – Gaza/Napalm – Scairt Amach – Museum bookmark + Cell – Alec Reid bookmark – Milltown 25th – Maze Ablaze – Obama Holds The Key – Stop Tory Cuts – Local Volunteers – Time For Our Truth – WBTA Get The Real Story (2012-07) – Hunger Strikers/Frank Stagg (2011) – Equality For Travellers – Free Otegi
From the left …  (X02313)
2014-10-27 IntWallLeft+
… from the right: (X02314)
2014-10-27 IntWallRight+
In the above wide-shot, the Hunger Strikers/Frank Stagg mural is being modified to include Nugent & Farrell (2014-10-29)
2015-01 Nugent board replaces Catalan Vote
(X02476)
2015-06 Clive Dutton bookmark over remaining part of Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta
(X02660)
2015-06 100% British replaces Scairt Amach
2015-08 Defence Of The Nation replaces 100% British
2015-07-31 line-up: Nugent board – Gaza/Napalm – Defence Of The Nation (in progress) – Museum bookmark – Alec Reid bookmark – Milltown 25th – Maze Ablaze – Obama Holds The Key – Stop Tory Cuts – Clive Dutton bookmark – Local Volunteers – Time For Our Truth – WBTA Get The Real Story (2012-07) – Hunger Strikers/Frank Stagg/Nugent/Farrell  – Equality For Travellers – Free Otegi
Images: left (X02943), middle (X02944), right (X02945)

  

2015-09 Refugees Welcome replaces Equality For Travellers
In 2016 the entire wall was repainted for the centenary of the Rising with a long, multi-panel, mural depicting republicanism throughout the centuries, with a focus on connections to Belfast – with the exception of the 32CSM mural in the third spot and a new IRPWA in the final spot. Work began in March; the mural was launched on August 3rd, on the centenary of Casement’s execution.
The first piece painted was the Carson/loyalist gunrunning panel, followed by the historical predecessors panel and the MacDiarmada/magic lantern section (also, the Local Volunteers were given vintage uniforms and weapons).
Here is the wall in early May with these three in progress: (X0352)
03452 2016-05-10 IntWall2016 whole+
By mid-July, the Howth gun-running and Shan Van Vocht sections had been added and work has started on the Willowbank/GPO section. (X03668)
03668 2016-07-20 IntWall2016 w+
The wall on August 3rd, the date of its official launch (Casement’s execution). The Willowbank and GPO scene has been completed, the hunger strikers mural incorporated with the memorial stone from Kilmainham, and Casement and Peltier added as a book-end. (The edge of the in-progress IRPWA mural can be seen on the right.) (X03708)
03708 2016-08-03 IntWall2016 r
The 1916-2016 wall, from left to right, late August, 2016:
  • Wolfe Tone and other predecessors
    (X03732)
  • Larne Gun-Running, Edward Carson, Call For Irish Volunteers. Carson was paint-bombed on at least two occasions prior to the launch, and posters added his face; at the launch, the posters were removed but the latest paint-bombing had not been repaired:
    (X03733)
    (X03819)
  • 32CSM/Irish Volunteers Meeting: for the launch of the wall, the 32CSM Defence Of The Nation mural was covered over with the call for Irish Volunteers
    (X03706)
  • Molly Childers, Mary Spring Rice, Nora Connolly, Ina Connolly:
    (X03734)
  • Ethna Carbery, Elizabeth Corr, Alice Milligan, Nell Corr, James Connolly:
    (X03735)
  • Seán MacDiarmada, Magic Lanterns:
    (X03736)
  • Local Volunteers, Training:
    (X03738)
  • Joe Gleeson, GPO, Winifred Carney:
    (X03694)
  • Kieran Nugent, Mairéad Farrell, Hunger Strikers, Roger Casement:
    (X03741)
  • Leonard Peltier:
    (X03802)(version including Seany McVeigh’s Pearse Surrenders To The Developers)
    (X03803)
  • Bilal Kayed: Administrative Detention
    (X03743)

In late 2017, Kieran Nugent was restored to the #1 spot
(X04706)

Ireland Stands With Catalonia
(X04606)

Image from early December, 2017, of Divis Street and part of Northumberland Street. Only the two items mentioned just above have replaced panels from the 1916 wall. (X04708)

 

2018-05 The Battle Of Long Kesh
(X06043)

In May a small board was added to the Magic Lanterns panel advising tourists to watch their belongings:
(X04958)

‘The Great Return” protests in Gaza (2018-06) replaces Peltier/Amaze(X04957)