Northern Ireland

Hunger-striker's bow tie included in UU exhibition

The Ulster University exhibition includes objects from the Good Friday Agreement era with the stories behind them.
The Ulster University exhibition includes objects from the Good Friday Agreement era with the stories behind them. The Ulster University exhibition includes objects from the Good Friday Agreement era with the stories behind them.

A bow tie made from hunger-striker Laurence McKeown's prison blanket and an 'Ulster Says No' match box are among the items featured in a new exhibition being staged by Ulster University.

'Everyday Objects Transformed by the Conflict' is a free exhibition launched to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

The display, at UU’s Magee Campus, was developed by 'Healing Through Remember' and includes a range of objects from the Good Friday Agreement era with the stories behind them.

The hunger-strike bow tie was part of a suit the 1981 hunger-stiker had made from his prison blanket following his release prison.

The exhibition also includes a match box bearing the unionist slogan 'Ulster Says No' which became prominent following the signing of the Anglo Irish Agreement in 1985.

A piece of twisted metal from an exploded car and a journalist’s notes written on unused cheques as well as a bullet-proof clipboard used by security forces are also featured. Other exhibits in the display include a beret donated by a British soldier as a symbol of peace. The soldier said he knew that the Troubles had been replaced by peace when he changed helmets for berets.

A spokeswoman for the university said the exhibition would offer a glimpse of the everyday lives and memories of people and communities. She said it would also help visitors explore the “nature, causes and effects of the conflict”.

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John Hume and Thomas P O’Neill chair at the university, Professor Brandon Hamber said the exhibition would remind people of the complex and varied stories in the years since the Good Friday Agreement.

“The legacy of the conflict is not something we can legislate away but needs to be engaged with in a detailed way and with care. The exhibit provides this very opportunity and I am delighted we can share it with the university community and the wider public,” Professor Hamber said.

Kate Turner, of Healing Through Remembering, said the exhibition offered a range of views and perspectives.

“This insight into the lives of others is all the more important when the lack of an agreed narrative of the conflict in and about Northern Ireland is seen as a major hindrance to progressing peace,” she said.

The exhibit, which will run until November 15, can be visited on the first floor of the campus’s MU building.