Poem: ‘James ‘Mick’ Magennis VC’

Tom Paulin

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Mick Magennis was the only Ulsterman to win the VC in the last war. Though the population of Northern Ireland celebrated and rewarded his heroism, his community on the Falls Road in Belfast rejected him on his return, while the Unionist authorities begrudged his achievement and failed to honour it officially by making him a Freeman of the City of Belfast. He emigrated to England where he found comradeship among the Yorkshire miners – there is a plaque to his memory in Bradford Cathedral and a street named for him in Gosport. Although a statue to Magennis outside Belfast City Hall was recently unveiled, there is still resistance to honouring his name. BBC Northern Ireland has twice refused to commission a documentary film about him.