Belfast '81. Primark Occupation

Belfast '81. Primark Occupation

Belfast 1981. Relatives of Republican Prisoners occupy a Belfast Primark Store in a demonstration supporting the hunger strikers.

Hunger Strikers 'peace' wall

Hunger Strikers 'peace' wall

Belfast 1981. Short Strand 'peace'wall. One of many walls built to separate Republicans and Unionist communities. The graffiti lists the first Republican prisoners to embark on the 1981 hunger strike. Altogether, ten men died.

Belfast '82. Anti-internment demo

Belfast '82. Anti-internment demo

Bonfire preparations, Falls Rd. Small children building one of the many bonfires on the eve of the Anniversary of Internment.

Belfast '81. Internment demo

Belfast '81. Internment demo

Belfast 1981. Anniversary of Internment. After a night of resistance, one of the many highjacked and burnt lorries on the Falls Road.

Belfast '83 Escape from Long Kesh

Belfast '83 Escape from Long Kesh

Belfast 1983. The Great Escape. HM Prison Long Kesh was regarded as one of the most escape-proof prisons in Europe. In 1983, 38 IRA prisoners escaped. It was the biggest escape in Europe since World War 2. The poster of The Great Escape in the window behind the children on the balcony was widely pasted in Republican areas.

Belfast '82 Plastic Bullets

Belfast '82 Plastic Bullets

Belfast 1980. Boy shows his bruised arm after being shot by a plastic bullet. The British Army changed from Rubber Bullets to Plastic Bullets, which were deemed less dangerous.

Belfast '81 British Fort Falls Rd

Belfast '81 British Fort Falls Rd

Belfast 1981. Raising the Irish Flag. Two boys scale the outside of a British Fort near the Falls Road.

Belfast '82 burning bus Falls Rd

Belfast '82 burning bus Falls Rd

Falls Rd. Belfast Morning after a demonstration in support of the hunger strikers.

The British Monarch was rumoured to visit the six counties

they die you die

A warning to British soldiers. 'They die' refers to the hunger strikers. A Saracen (British army tank) approaches from the right.

UDA RIP on a Belfast bustop

Armagh women's prison. Demonstration on International Women's Day.

Armagh women's prison. Demonstration on International Women's Day.

free the people

Demonstrators assemble for the Blanket Protest demonstration.

blanket women support the Blanket Pr

Hundreds of relatives of IRA prisoners dress in Blankets on a protest demonstration.

Armagh women's prison. Demonstration on International Women's Day.

Armagh women's prison. Demonstration on International Women's Day.

Armagh women's prison. Demonstration by relatives and supporters on International Women's Day.

billboard demo

The people from the Nationalist areas of Belfast assemble for the Blanket protest demonstration.

Short Strand besieged by RUC and British Army

Relatives of the Hunger Strikers occupy Primark, Belfast

"The British Government 

surrounded Ireland with a wall of silence in order to create the setting and the framing of the war."

"Widespread support for the Hunger Strikers remained hidden, as the media collaborated with the British Government in it's campaign to discredit the Republican Movement"  

 Extracts from an interview between CAMERAWORK and Christine Halsall from the Poster Collective 'Women Documentary Photographers in Northern Ireland'

Camerawork    

How was your role different from the photographer taking pictures for the bourgeois media? 

CH   

There is a tendency for photographers to attempt to capture a pre-determined spectacle type of image: the explosion, death, riot, soldier - civilian confrontation, - images that have ‘news value’. I wasn’t primarily interested in this process of photography.  Kids on the street in riots is obviously a very important day to day struggle against the army, but through staying in the community I was able to see the other side of this. Parents’ constant fear for their kids’ safety and the levels of conflict that can arise out of it. I wouldn't really have understood this if I had remained simply the outsider photographer. Being a documentary photographer relies on the creation of a distance - becoming the ‘objective eye’. I found it was sometimes more important to listen than take pictures. 

Camerawork     

What do you think about the role of photography in the situation there? 

CH 

One important role of photography is the use by the ‘security forces’.  The systematic photographing of the country in order to gather information in order to control the Nationalist people plays a key role in their suppression.

The question is what our role should be:  we feel it is central to the political struggle for the nationalist movement to get representations of how they see their struggle.  Any dominated group has this problem: everything comes from the top downwards.  This is particularly heightened in the six counties after centuries of colonial domination.

In any war, a main battleground is information control and propaganda and the British Army is especially conscious of this process. They attempt to surround Ireland with a wall of silence and as long as they can create the setting and the framing of the war – ie, army as peacemakers, IRA as terrorists they can maintain support here for their role. That’s why the struggle over political status has assumed such importance, for as long as they can brand the Nationalist army as criminals, the colonial nature of the war will remain hidden. The recent developments of the hunger strike in the jails of Armagh and Long Kesh, has shown how the media was used to throw confusion at every stage.

Photography and film plays an important part in this process.- which is of course the reason for all the censorship. It is vital that the people who are part of any struggle should have the means to represent themselves.

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