Memory, Tragedy and Violence in Derry

I happened to be travelling through Derry on Good Friday and had planned to do a video for students about the murals in the Bogside, and what they can tell us about conflict aesthetics, and what they mean for questions of security and political violence. And Good Friday, is after-all a meaningful day in the history of the Northern Irish conflict.

Tragically, the night before Good Friday, a young and very promising journalist, Lyra McKee, was shot and killed in the midst of a riot in the Creggan area of Derry. Lyra in many ways represented the new Northern Ireland, and her death shocked the community. Her work shed light on the some of the less visible aspects of the conflict, as well as helping other young Northern Irish conceptualise a political identity that was not so deeply in entrenched in the bitter divides of a past politics. It was thus deeply tragic that I’d happened to plan on talking about the past as a well for many political actors to draw upon, in justifying behaviours and narratives, at a moment when they conspired to so cheaply snuff out a beacon for a new politics.

I decided it was important to do the video anyway, my aim was for it to provide a little context to Northern Ireland, from a perspective of one small corner of it that has both seen much tragedy, and yet maintains a positive, hopeful view of the future.