Troubled Images: Posters 21-25

Posters selected from the Northern Ireland Political Collection (part 3 of 3)

CultureNorthernIreland is pleased to bring you a selection of 25 posters spanning the 30 years of the Northern Ireland conflict and peace process. The posters are a selection of the 70 posters which
featured in the Troubled Images Exhibition, compiled from the Linen Hall Library's Northern Ireland Political Collection. You can view posters 21-25 below: 

21. Plastic Bullets Kill: Ban Them - United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets, 1986 Plastic Bullets KillThe use of the word ‘kill’ in blood red on black, and larger than the rest of the message in this poster by Gerry McLaughlin, highlights continuing controversy over the use of plastic bullets as a means of crowd control. They, and the earlier rubber bullet, have killed 17 people. The United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets was formed in September 1984, following the killing of Sean Downes in full television view during an anti-internment rally. Of the 17 killed by these weapons, eight were under 16, and only one was Protestant. In 2001, the introduction of a new form of plastic bullet was immediately controversial.

22. Think of Their Tomorrows - Alliance Party, 1972 The Alliance Party secured the services of Think of their TomorrowsNorthern Ireland’s best known cartoonist, Rowel Friers, for this recruiting poster. The party, formed in April 1970, drew impetus from the Ulster Liberal Party and the Northern Ireland Labour Party. It hoped to create a wider moderate constitutional force by recruiting liberal Unionists and Nationalists. Friers provided a realistic background of strife-torn inner Belfast. His children make a more sentimental appeal, and the slogan itself delivers no more specific message. Alliance reached a high point of 14.4% first preference votes in the 1977 council elections. In 2001, it secured only 3.6% of the vote in the Westminster elections. 

23. Stand by the Republic - Irish Republican Socialist Party 1998 Stand by the RepublicUnlike other political parties with presumed paramilitary links, the Irish Republican Socialist Party parades its connection with the Irish National Liberation Army. Formed in 1974 and 1975, respectively, their profile became one principally associated with violence. The poster, designed by Terry Harkin and Eamon Mullan, reminds us that the IRSP proclaims itself as Marxist-Leninist. This is a remarkably late tribute to Eastern European socialist constructivism. Indeed the designers had Bertolt Brecht in mind: ‘Where, the evening that the Great Wall of China was finished, did the mason go?’ Here, after work the toiler converts his spanner into a gun.

24. Send Our Prisoners Home - Ulster Democratic Party/Loyalist Prisoners Association, 1995 Send Our Prisoners HomeFollowing the cease-fires of 1994, stalled negotiations on a political settlement proved frustrating for all political representatives with paramilitary connections, and here in the case of the Ulster Democratic Party. The UDP was linked to the largest Loyalist paramilitary organisation, the Ulster Defence Association. For them, the linking of a political resolution with prisoner releases was just as important as for Republicans. This appears to be a standard Maze Prison image. Not at all! It is wholly taken from the flag of the National League of POW/MIA Families representing United States soldiers still presumed to be prisoners of war or missing in action in Vietnam.

25. Freedom - Sinn Féin, 1990 FreedomNelson Mandela and Bobby Sands side by side in impossible conjunction only 11 days after Mandela’s release from jail in 1990; Sands died on hunger strike in 1981. Designer Danny Devenny aimed to highlight the hypocrisy of those who gave Mandela a hero’s welcome while condemning Republicans. The poster presumes an absolute parallel of circumstance, and is elaborately framed by alternate symbols of both movements. Mandela’s hope for a negotiated settlement in South Africa and that ‘there may no longer be the need for the armed struggle’, a qualification soon to have a particular Irish resonance, is omitted in this militant reading.

See and read more about Troubled Images 1-10 and 11-20.


Text (c) Linen Hall Library

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