Belfast: Where the Walls Speak

Collection with 22 media items created by Fabio Polese

Ireland 27 Dec 2014 18:39

Strolling through the ravines of cities like Belfast, in those hearths of belonging marked by barbed wire, murals celebrating local identity and waking flags speak to a past that continues to exert is presence on the everyday. The divisions between the Republican and Protestant communities are still deep, beyond the attempts at reconciliation have occurred over the years by members of the political institutions in Northern Ireland. Around here the time is marked by commemorations and celebrations, events that enliven the mind and strengthen the concept of identity. On the walls, the windows of fast food restaurants, inside the pubs, one may notice small posters affixed to convene the community to participate in a garrison rather than a procession to commemorate some topical event in local history or the sacrifice of a martyr to his cause. And so even the walls speak. They tell stories and consolidate memory. "The murals are used to transmit our historical legacy," says Jack Duffin, a former member of the Official Irish Republican Army (IRA). The Offical IRA came out of a split in the IRA that lead to the formation of two groups. The more nationalist group took on the name Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), while the Official IRA was often referred to as the ‘Red IRA’ or the ‘Marxist IRA.’ Duffin now works as a tour guide at the "Coiste Irish Political Tours,” an agency that organizes walking tours for tourists explaining the violence that their land has suffered. "Trading the past means transmitting our historical legacy to all people of the world who visit Belfast,” Duffin says, drinking his cup of black coffee on the way to Culturlann, a structure that works to promote the Gaelic language and culture located in the district nationalist Falls Road, Belfast. "I do not regret my past, I still want an Ireland free and sovereign. An Ireland free from the British and the European Union, but without violence. That's what we try to teach our young people.” "Many young people today are much less interested in the situation,” says Sean McHugh, a forty-year-old nationalist born and raised in Ardoyne, who lived through clashes between Irish Republicans and supporters of the Queen in the nineties. “They are estranged from reality by television, by drugs and alcohol. In the nineties there was a lot more anger and tension than there is today." This tension does not seem to have vanished completely and could re-ignite at any moment. In fact, according to informed sources, there are 200 to 500 volunteers for the New IRA in Belfast alone. The New IRA has been training a new cadre of Irish Republican Army since they were formed in 2012 by merging several active paramilitary cells. Despite this presence, local associations and political parties continue desire a peaceful way forward to achieve a free and sovereign Ireland.

Black & White Ireland Belfast Ira Army Graffiti

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Belfast Murals 19
Belfast
By Fabio Polese
06 Jan 2015

A girl plays in front of her house in the nationalist republican Ardoyne neighborhood in Belfast.

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Title photo for the collection
Belfast Murals 01
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

A member of Sinn Fein, the second largest party in northern Ireland, commemorates Martin Hurson, IRA volunteer who died during a hunger strike in Long Kesh prison English in 1981.

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Belfast Murals 02
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

One of the murals in the nationalist Falls Road neighborhood of Belfast calls for the release of political prisoners in Ireland.

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Belfast Murals 03
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

A mural on the border between the nationalist district Falls Road and the unionist Shankill Road.

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Belfast Murals 04
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

A mural in memory of their Irish political prisoners in Long Kesh prison in England.

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Belfast Murals 05
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

Murals adorn the Irish nationalist Ardoyne district.

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Belfast Murals 06
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

Daily life goes on in the nationalist Ardoyne district. In Belfast, walls tell stories and consolidate memories, the cause of Irish nationalists and many other oppressed peoples in many parts of the world.

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Belfast Murals 07
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

Murals promoting local identity adorn the walls in Falls Road, Belfast.

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Belfast Murals 08
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

Gardens of remembrance for the fallen Republicans are popular in the nationalist Falls Road neighborhood of Belfast.

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Belfast Murals 09
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

Murals promoting local identity adorn the walls in Falls Road, Belfast.

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Belfast Murals 10
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

Murals adorn the walls in Falls Road, Belfast. The Irish cause is not the only one speaking out from the walls of Belfast.

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Belfast Murals 11
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

"The murals are used to transmit our historical legacy," says Jack Duffin, a former member of the Official Irish Republican Army (IRA).

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Belfast Murals 12
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

Murals promoting local identity adorn the walls in Falls Road, Belfast.

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Belfast Murals 13
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

A mural in Falls Road glorifies the liberation of Ocalan, a Kurdish revolutionary.

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Belfast Murals 14
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

A mural makes a bond between the Irish struggle for freedom and that of the Palestinian people.

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Belfast Murals 15
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

Murals promoting local identity adorn the walls in Falls Road, Belfast.

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Belfast Murals 16
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

A mural Irish identity calls for the release of a militant Basque nationalists.

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Belfast Murals 17
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

A mural demands justice for fallen local heros in Falls Road, Belfast.

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Belfast Murals 18
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
26 Dec 2014

A mural depicts the face of Bobby Sands, the IRA volunteer who become an immortal symbol of struggle after his death by hunger strike in 1981. The mural is on the walls of the headquarters of Sinn Fein in Falls Road, Belfast.

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Belfast Murals 20
Belfast
By Fabio Polese
06 Jan 2015

Two militants of Sinn Fein, the second largest party in Northern Ireland, pay homage to Martin Hurson, an IRA volunteer who died during a hunger strike in Long Kesh prison in England in 1981.

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Belfast Murals 21
Belfast
By Fabio Polese
06 Jan 2015

Murals promote Irish identity in the district of Republican Falls Road, Belfast.

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Belfast Murals 22
Belfast
By Fabio Polese
06 Jan 2015

What remains of one of the historic pubs of Irish nationalists in Falls Road, Belfast.