Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Backlash after DJ mural removed

A mural paying tribute to the late DJ John Peel has been removed

A Belfast mural paying tribute to the late John Peel has been removed, sparking a community backlash.

The lyrics "Teenage dreams, so hard to beat", taken from The Undertones' debut single, were spray-painted under a motorway flyover after the Radio 1 DJ's death nine years ago.

The non sectarian mural has now been re-painted as part of a £300,000 public realm improvement scheme, prompting a storm of protest on social media websites with some people questioning why other murals depicting gunmen have not also been taken down.

Undertones bass player Michael Bradley was among those who took to Twitter to vent their frustration. He said: "So the John Peel graffiti removed in Belfast. Undertones now going to paint over the DRD building. Call the Outcasts!"

The cult classic Teenage Kicks became a hit in 1978 after Peel played it twice in a row on his popular show. He later described the song as his favourite and requested the lyrics be inscribed onto his headstone.

Terri Hooley, the man behind the recording of Teenage Kicks and whose story was the subject of the successful film, Good Vibrations, said he was bewildered by the decision.

"I am surprised, shocked and very sad about it," he said. "It just seems to have been an easy target - all the murals for paramilitaries and violence have been left up, I don't understand why they took this one down. It was there for nine years and no one graffitied over it - that is unusual in Belfast. A lot of people considered Teenage Kicks to be the national anthem of Northern Ireland."

The mural was painted under the M3 flyover at Bridge End in east Belfast close to a sectarian interface where rival gangs of Catholics and Protestants youths have clashed in recent times.

The Department of Social Development (DSD), which was responsible for removing the graffiti, said it would consider funding a new mural painted by children from the local area.

A spokeswoman said: "We do not remove graffiti as a standalone issue however we will always remove graffiti, after consultation, as part of any scheme if it falls within a scheme area. Community representatives from the area have made initial contact with the department to develop a proposal to bring together teenagers from the Short Strand and Newtownards Road area to design alternative community art work in this location."

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