For Unite organiser Davy Kettyles, solidarity does not start — nor does it end — at the factory gates. A lifelong socialist and trade unionist, Belfast-based Davy’s whole raison d’être is bringing communities together to take action on a number of issues in and out of the workplace. He does this not only through his day job but also through song.
Singer-songwriter Davy, who has worked as a senior organiser for Unite for the last decade, has music in his blood – his father before him was a professional musician for fifty years. Davy describes himself as a “long-time lapsed musician”.
“I took it up again in the last six years, and since then, I’ve released three albums, with a fourth on the way. Most of my songs deal with social commentary,” he told UniteLive.
Davy’s latest single is the poignant anti-war ballad ‘Every War is Called Ukraine’, released this week with Unite’s support alongside an accompanying video.
All proceeds from the single, which can be purchased for £1 on the Bandcamp platform, will go to charities in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland that provide humanitarian aid to victims of the war in Ukraine.
Davy explained what motivated him to write the song.
“The idea came to me at a time when the war in Ukraine had begun raging,” he said. “The focus on outreach and support for Ukrainian refugees has been absolutely fantastic but I thought it was important to make people aware that there have been other conflicts, both past and present.
“War has sadly been with us for all time, and we need to remember all the other refugees that need our help as well,” he added. “So the aim of the song is two-fold: to raise awareness of the horrors of all wars, past and present, and to raise funds for Ukrainian humanitarian aid.”
Davy said that he hopes to take the song and video on a roadshow later this year, alongside another single he released in 2016 also with Unite’s support called ‘Humanity’, which highlights the horrors of the war in Syria.
Davy aims to focus the potential roadshow on bringing together and championing communities in Northern Ireland, and hopes to involve Unite Community as well.
“We can look at what the social challenges are for people in need right now – that can involve refugees, homeless people, those who are reliant on food banks, food banks themselves,” he said. “We can look at the cost of living crisis – all of these issues are relevant and connected.”
Since the release of his latest single, he’s worked with Unite to produce a poster promoting the single. A series of photographs of striking workers, both at Caterpillar and in local authorities in Northern Ireland, with workers holding the posters (pictured) have been circulated on social media to help get the message out.
“This promotes the union not just in the factory or the workplace but also in the wider community. We’re looking at the issues and how we can ally ourselves with groups that are trying to do what I call ‘social defence’ — those who are trying to help people on the ground. My own ambition is to try to link various workplaces with groups that are supporting the homeless, refugees and others in need in our communities.”
Jackie Pollock, Irish Regional Secretary of Unite, hailed Davy’s latest single and the activism that’s sprung from it.
“Together with the accompanying video, this is one of the most powerful anti-war songs I have ever heard,” he said. “Unite is proud to be associated with the aims of this project, and I would urge everyone to buy the single.”
You can purchase Davy Kettyles single ‘Every War is Called Ukraine’ on the Bandcamp platform here.
By Hajera Blagg