Our Resistance to Forced Forgetting – Academic Study by Professor Laura McAtackney

A powerful academic study of our work by Professor Laura McAtackney is open to all from today.

You now have open access to Professor McAtackney's research paper: "Material Dissonances in the Post-Conflict City: Re-Presencing Social Injustice in Belfast, Northern Ireland".

Professor McAtackney has produced a compelling study on the power of memorialization and our campaign for social justice. Its backdrop is the conflict in Belfast and the changing cityscape. Inner-city, working-class communities like Sailortown and the Fenian Gut were sacrificed at the altar of urban development - victims of the Unionist government's "planned violence" of slum clearance.

Road and housing developments also befitted a city at war with the likes of the Westlink cutting a peace line between our two communities. It rolled over the site where McGurk's Bar once stood before it was obliterated in a UVF bomb on 4th December 1971.

Our families reclaimed the space back to tell our story.

Professor McAtackney investigated how we "re-presenced" the material memory of the past to battle attempts to bury what happened at the juncture of Great George Street and North Queen Street. She highlights the importance of remembrance and confronting past injustices as a form of activism in the present.

Professor McAtackney records the timeline of our memorialization at the site over the last few decades, including the trompe l'oeil we created for the 40th anniversary of the atrocity. The recreated facade featured in Mark Cousins' love letter to his hometown, I Am Belfast. Award-winning artist, Sinéad O'Neill-Nicholl, created a modern soundscape at the site where visitors can download an app and listen to the families talk about their memories of the terrible event. The local community opposite the site renamed their street Bealach Mhic Oirc, McGurk's Way.

Each tells a different part of our story over the years so future generations might stop and heed.

Professor McAtackney rightly recognizes that our memorialization is not only an act of remembrance but also a call to action for our families and the local community.

Our fight for truth and justice continues to this very day and our physical memorial remains the focal point of our campaign, despite numerous attacks on it and attempts to bury the past.

Read Professor McAtackney's "Material Dissonances in the Post-Conflict City: Re-Presencing Social Injustice in Belfast, Northern Ireland".


McGurk's Way Bealach Mhic Oirc
McGurk's Bar Mural