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MUSEUM OF FREE DERRY



I visited Derry yesterday and the Museum of Free Derry where my Bloody Sunday Bayeux Tapestry is on display. It's such an honour to have my work here, and it was great to see the museum itself, which is an important and fascinating history of the Troubles and of the anti-Catholic apartheid in the North which was instrumental in triggering the conflict. In many ways the city of Derry is like a microcosm of the colonisation, subjugation and partition of Ireland.



The scale of state violence from the plastic and rubber bullets, chemical weapons, batons with nails driven through them, and live ammunition that were used against a civilian population is hard to get your head around, particularly when this was happening in what is, ostensibly at least, a UK city, and within living memory.


My parents are both Irish, (as I am by citizenship, but not birth,) so I have heard and learned a lot over the years about the history of British violence in Ireland, but I still find myself surprised at horrors and injustices that were perpetrated here, and at the brazen cover-ups, whitewashing and collusion between the British state and Loyalist terrorists.



As our brilliant tour guide around the murals and sites of the Bloody Sunday massacre told us, Derry is perhaps the most rioted city in history, as people who were pushed to their limits, crammed into overcrowded housing and denied jobs, housing, and even votes based on their religion and politics, rebelled against their oppressors and shook the bars of their cages.


While "Free Derry" was a short-lived moment in the history of the struggle, it is an inspiring one and one which links to the struggles of dispossessed and oppressed people the world over. As can be seen with the many Palestine flags that hang alongside the Irish tricolour, it is the same struggle against colonisation, injustice, and oppression from here to there.


"Our revenge will be the laughter of our children" - Bobby Sands



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