Visual History 09 – Winning The Peace (2001-2003)


Despite the on-again/off-again nature of the Executive and Assembly and their suspension in 2002 (which would last until 2007), peace was largely maintained and decommissioning gradually took place: the IRA would complete the decommissioning of its weapons by September 2005, the UVF by June 2009, and the UDA by January 2010.

In republican muraling, energy that had been used to support the military campaign was channelled into the political campaign, pressing for the realisation of various policies described in the Good Friday Agreement. Chief among these was the reformation of the RUC and policing in accordance with the Patten Report, followed closely by demands for investigations into collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries.


The 90th anniversary of The People’s Army (the UVF) sees the organisation at the crossroads between war and peace.
(2008 dating to 2002 M04292)

“This is the Sinn Fein commitment to the peace process: guns from Florida, training FARC rebels [see below], Castlereagh break-in [the chef is Larry Zaitschek but see Independent and Guardian], Stormont spy-ring [Stormontgate].”
(2005 dating to 2002 M02468)

“Training FARC rebels” in the mural above refers to the Colombia 3: Niall Connolly (SF), Jim Monaghan (IRA), and Martin McCauley (IRA) were arrested in August, 2001 travelling on false passports in Colombia. They were also charged with training FARC rebels to make bombs. Initially, they were found innocent of this charge in the December 2002 trial, but then found guilty of it on appeal by the prosecution (in December 2004), at which time they fled back to Ireland (WP).

(2002 M01558)

For republicans during and after the peace process, the status of the police force – the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) – was top of the list of reforms. Those in favour of the peace process and those against it alike called for the disbandment of the existing force. The Police Service of Northern Ireland came into being on November 4th, 2001. Sinn Féin refused to support it until the Patten Report – the advisory document making 175 recommendations concerning policing – was enacted in full, reflecting the ambivalence of republicans generally. Militant republicans refused to endorse the force at all. In the murals and graffiti on the issue, it is sometimes hard to tell which pieces come from which faction. That “nothing has changed”, for example, might be a demand for change, on the one hand, or constitute an outright rejection, on the other.

(2001 M01473 See also 2002 M01622 | 2002 M01725)

(2001 M01512)

The new emblem of the PSNI, outside the Strand Road station, London-/Derry.

(2004 M02167)

“PNSI – Patten Still Not Implemented” on Divis Street, Belfast.
(2003 dating to 2002 M02001)

“Reject The ‘New’ RUC”. Falls Road, Belfast.

(2002 M01627)

The Northern Ireland Policing Board was founded in 2001 to oversee the PSNI. It was initially constituted with three SDLP members, depicted here (Bridge Street, Strabane) as puppets of the Special Branch. Sinn Féin would not take its seats on the board until 2007.
(2002 M01720)

“Nothing Has Changed!” More puppetry, this time the RUC/PSNI control David Trimble, George Mitchell, and Ian Paisley. Fahan Street, Derry.

(2002 M01608)

The most blunt PSNI-related graffiti, by the unrestrained youth in the Bogside, Derry: “Kill all PSNI officers now RIRA.” 
(2004 M02199)

A closely-related issue was collusion between the security forces (the RUC and British Army) and loyalist paramilitaries during the Troubles.
“PSNI Murderers” on New Lodge Road, Belfast.

(2002 M01695 & M01696)

Beechmount Avenue, Belfast.

(2003 M01982)

Whiterock Road, Belfast.
(2005 dating to 2002 M02272)

Ardoyne Avenue, Belfast, bringing back an image from 1989: Springhill | Beechmount.
(2005 dating to 2003 M02417)

A march to highlight collusion was held in July 2003 – see four rallying calls in Collusion Is State Murder, and another in M01997 – and another in August – see M01998 | M01950. See also 2003 M01974 & M01976 & M01979 | M02000.

One loyalist mural also pursued the theme of justice for historical events: “Where are our inquiries? Where Is Our Truth? Where is our justice?”

(2004 X00076)

The Irish language began to get some attention; an Irish Language Act would later become a central Sinn Féin campaign. This mural in west Belfast is for Irish-language advocacy group Pobal.

(2003 M01995 See also the board inside Free Derry Corner for Foras Na Gaeilge 2002 M01765)

In the summers of 2001 and 2002, there was “persistent and recurrent violence in the interface areas” between Catholics in the small enclave of Short Strand and Protestants from east Belfast (ICR | BBC-NI | Guardian). Republicans dubbed 2002 the “siege of Short Strand”. The height of the “peace” walls around Bryson Street, Madrid Street, and Cluan Place was increased (Guardian).
In the mural below, the situation is compared unfavourably to the biblical story of “David & Goliath”: “Just because you’ve read it somewhere, you don’t have to believe we’re this crazy!”

(2002 M01690)

Support in west Belfast for the Catholics in east Belfast.

(2003 M02011)

See also the cases of “political prisoners” the Castlerea 5 (2001 M01498 | 2003 M01951and Seamus Doherty (2004 M02143 | 2004 M02146 | 2004 M02159 | 2004 M02175).

A final piece of republican muraling worth noting is this simple anti-racism stencil, the first anti-racism piece in the collection. It is notable because the message is directed inwards, at the republican community, in connection with the treatment of immigrants. Eight eastern European countries were admitted to the EU in 2004 and approximately 122,000 migrants would settle in Northern Ireland between 2000 and 2010 (Russell 2012).

(2004 M02213)

Some PUL murals from this period …

The UVF continued to use WWI imagery to commemorate a modern-day volunteer, a theme first mentioned in Visual History 08. (Glenwood St, Belfast)
(2005 dating to 2001 M05502)

This Canmore Street (Belfast) mural includes the riots of 1969 as a third moment in the history of loyalism between 1912, 1916 and the present day, where the gunman stands at the junction between war and peace.(2008 dating to 2002 M04292)

Denver Smith mural in (PUL) Parkhall, Antrim, again combining the 36th Division with the UVF.
(2003 dating to 2002 M01927)

A number of murals were painted to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 50th anniversary of accession (1952) and coronation (1953). This portrait is in Bond’s Place in the Waterside, Londonderry, where there was also added a mural to Cecil McKnight (M02024).

(2003 M02021)

See also: 1952-2002 in Rathcoole (2015 dating to 2002 X02489) | 1952-2002 in Argyle St/Shankill (2005 dating to 2002 M02455) | 1952-2002 Cashel Dr, Monkstown (2006 dating to 2002 M03065 and M03066).
Also: Diana in lower Shankill (2000 C01478) | Queen Mother in Conway St/Shankill (2004 dating to 2002 X00072).

A traditional image – the Relief Of Derry – in the (PUL) Fountain, Londonderry.
(2002 dating to 2000 M01567)

The lower Shankill estate saw a lot of murals painted at the behest of UDA brigadier Johnny Adair. These are discussed in Visual History 10 as they came and went (some of them) quite quickly.

Visual History 10 is devoted to re-imaging (getting rid of loyalist gunmen). Here is a small example of early re-imaging from Sandy Row in 2002. A mural for the 300th anniversary of the Boyne (below, also seen in Visual History 06) which showed a Williamite and a paramilitary (flanking King William on his horse) was repainted and the paramilitary volunteer replaced by another Williamite. On the other hand, a UYM emblem (M02401) was added above the mural!

(1990 M00818)

(2005 dating to 2002 M02403)

On to Visual History 10 – Re-Imaging (2003-2009)

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