On 1st April 2015, Lisburn City Council annexed the sleepy civil parish of Dundonald and ended Castlereagh’s long established sovereignty. There was no referendum, no polls or any consultation of public opinion. It was an arranged marriage and one that was to enjoy no honeymoon period whatsoever. The Dundonald populace felt intimidated and resistless but just when it seemed like their hopes had been demolished, a group of renegade mercenaries rose like a phoenix from the rubble. They called themselves the Dundonald Liberation Army.
Just a few months after the hostile takeover, there had been unconfirmed reports that a rebel force was assembling within Dundonald. The area had always felt the presence of paramilitary activity, with organisations such as the C.Y.M. (Cherryhill Young Militants), the D.V.F. (Dundonald Village Florists) and the O.M.D. (Old Mill Defenders) in operation at different times.
The CYM could be considered as the forerunners to the DLA after they smuggled the first consignment of Super Soakers into the area during the early Nineties. The DVF took a no nonsense approach to the vandalizing of flower beds belonging to local residents, while the short-lived OMD disbanded over regrets they had named themselves after an Eighties new wave synth group.
In mid-September of the same year, the DLA army council released a statement through a local tabloid (the Dundonald Voyeur) which voiced their opposition to Lisburn occupation and outlined their demands. The organisation’s main objectives were to end Lisburn rule in Dundonald, reunify the borough of Castlereagh and establish an independent people’s republic in Dundonald. The group were said to be particularly aggrieved at Lisburn’s phony claim over their beloved International Ice Bowl (or Icey) and it was this move that propelled them into an armed struggle.
In the weeks that followed the statement, Dundonald and Lisburn were thrust into conflict as DLA water-bombs burst across the new ‘super-council’. By in large, the DLA enjoyed the unwavering support of the Dundonald people but anyone who was found to be dissenting would be severely dealt with. The DLA ruled their territory with an iron rod and administered ‘de-baggings’ to anyone found to be engaging in anti-social behaviour or who was outspoken against their regime.
As the DLA waged its watery war across the new borough, they watched on in dismay at how their struggle was being portrayed via the media. The army council decided if they were going to win this war then they would need to fight on all fronts and therefore they required a political strategy. The D.I.C. (Dundonald Independence Committee) was established with the objective of having a legitimate political agenda running in tandem with the DLA’s armed campaign.
Barry Mellon, a former DLA prisoner, was elected the ‘DIC head’ and he embarked upon a series of press conferences which the Lisburn authorities dismissed as nothing more than just ‘terrorist propaganda’. Lisburn Council adopted a policy of banning the voices of representatives of paramilitary groups during this time but the media found a way around the ban by dubbing Mellon’s voice with that of an actor. Viewers and listeners often heard Mr Mellon’s words spoken by celebrities such as Bill Cosby and Vincent Price.
However, despite the liberation movement’s efforts to engage in constructive dialogue and steer away from a path of violence, no solution has been found. People on both sides of the divide have continued to see much water-shed and a resolution to the problem seems further away than ever. The following collection of newspaper articles, news bulletins and eyewitness accounts, describe some of the major events that occurred during the conflict now known as ‘The Difficulties’.