Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Bid to find solution over east Belfast UVF terror mural that replaced George Best tribute

The new paramilitary mural in east Belfast showing a UVF gunman
The new paramilitary mural in east Belfast showing a UVF gunman

Negotiations have started behind the scenes after a menacing new UVF mural was painted over a tribute to George Best in east Belfast.

The sinister image – depicting a hooded gunman standing and the purple UVF flag – was completed on Saturday, to the dismay of Sydenham residents.

The terror display was painted over another mural depicting east Belfast football legend George Best – a project which had received £1,500 from Belfast City Council three years ago. The fund was part of a city council Peace III project called 'Tackling the physical manifestations and sectarianism'.

But earlier this month the cultural image disappeared and an intimidating mural harking back to the darkest days of the Troubles began to emerge on the wall.

The painting was temporarily suspended due to a public outcry and it is understood that negotiations took place behind the scenes.

However, work resumed last week and the mural was completed on Saturday.

Callers to Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan show yesterday morning expressed opposition, but said many of those who live nearby are pensioners and did not feel able to confront those painting the mural.

PUP councillor Dr John Kyle blamed "hardliners" for the mural.

He said: "I know that people have contacted me and said that they are not happy with it, it's not the sort of mural that they want, that it's a move backwards."

One of Best's relatives described the mural as regretful.

Norman McNarry, who is married to George's sister Barbara, said: "Any replacement of a mural of George by that of a paramilitary figure is something I would view with regret."

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for Northern Ireland Electricity confirmed that the mural at Inverwood Court is on the wall of one of its substations.

She said that negotiations are ongoing to "bring about a resolution that satisfies all members of the community".

"We would hope to help bring about a resolution that satisfies all members of the community."

In 2008, a UVF mural in Dee Street was painted over with a scene from the Chronicles Of Narnia, not far from where the author CS Lewis was born.

However just three years later, two new UVF murals depicting gunmen appeared nearby. While concern was expressed about them, they still remain.

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