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by Irvine Forgan
“He was a bad scribe because in reality he was ‘remaking’ the text” — Antonio Gramsci
This discussion focuses the signifying and ideological values articulated in the contrasting instances of the euphemistically named ‘peace walls’ and modes of mural expression. Although each instance is distinct from the other they contain mutually affecting variables.
With their arrival in the north of Ireland in 1969 the British army constructed sand banks along lines separating Catholic and Protestant residential areas in west Belfast and areas of Derry.  These frontiers have in the present time reconfigured as invitations for the communities’ to cooperate in building hegemonic legitimacy of the 1998 Belfast Agreement. However a code precluding the formation of a collective identity between nationalist Catholic neighbourhoods and loyalist Protestant ones is written into the peace wall discourse inasmuch as its conflictual structure invites the community on either side to contest the other through asserting its own narrative. This becomes evident in the discord between the postmodern rhetoric of diversity, inclusiveness, and liberation of personal taste attributed to the cultural discourse in the new Northern Ireland, and the prescriptive policies and programmatic strategies prescribed by the new law of the Belfast Agreement. One such programme strategy inures the discourse through the aesthetic themetization of the peace walls with state sponsored imagery. The return to popular taste strategized in the imagery produced on these walls is in fact a state sponsored mise-en scene.
On the Bombay Street side of the Cupar Way wall, many Catholic houses and businesses back directly on to the wall. Metal grids provide limited protection to these homes and businesses. The site of the Clonard Memorial and Bombay Street mural which engages with the violent events of August 1969 that occurred in the street and elsewhere in Belfast is located against the wall on this side. The mural, painted on the gable end of the rebuilt terraced estate in Bombay Street, prior to the introduction of the re-imaging programme explores the violence that occurred in the street and surrounding areas during August 1969. Angry red flames leap from burning homes; a woman holds a child to her bosom; figures are shown in silhouette. A photograph of the innocent face of a young boy Gerald McCauley is shown in an oval frame with the writing alongside—Dedicated to the memory of Fianna Gerald McCauley. Below, in the format of a film strip, reproduced photographs show burned out homes, grey building rubble and a deserted street. These images contrast sharply with the red and orange flames and provide narrativized access to the aftermath of the violence. Above the scene are the words in bold—Bombay Street Never Again.
On Belfast’s map, Bombay Street is a site of particular significance, recognized as a Read the rest of this entry
I had hoped, now that I’m unemployed, to have more time for the blog, but it’s amazing how the day fills up with other work. Also, until a day ago, my only means of accessing a computer and the internet was by walking over the hill to the little port library which has five computers for public use. Now, however, I have a laptop, although I currently can’t really afford to hook up to the internet.
Anyway, I have been thinking quite a bit about the future of this blog.
It did occur to me to wind it up, and offer anything I wanted to write about Ireland to the éirígí site, as some time ago I became a member of Clann éirígí and have been heavily involved in producing the Clann’s bulletin.
However, the site has a core group of readers and it does argue some politics of its own: for instance, I support a woman’s right to choose on abortion and I think that should be the party position. I also think that the left-republican groups should form a united committee to plan for Easter 1916 events. I think it would be bordering on criminal if each group simply organises its own events.
Imagine 1916. Pearse leads the Irish Volunteers out one day in one place. Connolly leads the ICA out another day in another place. The two movements never speak or co-ordinate. Crazy, huh? Let’s hope that the left-republican groups don’t adopt such an approach to commemorative events, especially for the 100th anniversary.
Well, let’s not just hope; let’s argue for an ard comhairle of representatives of the various organisations to organise national events and, at local level, comhairle ceantair or cúigí to organise district or regional events.
Anyway, back to the blog and you.
As well as Read the rest of this entry
This came from veteran socialist-republican Jim Lane in Cork, and is part two in his centenary year series on the history of the Cork Volunteers Pipe Band
Regular readers may have noticed that not much has appeared on the site over the last month or more. Rest assured, the blog is still very much a going concern. Likely, however, it will be another two-three weeks before things get back to ‘normal’.
In the meantime, hopefully you’ll go back through particular categories and catch up on things you haven’t had the chance to read before.