Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Silent frustration at UVF mural in east Belfast

The mural at the junction of Carlingford Street and Ardenvohr Street in East Belfast
The mural at the junction of Carlingford Street and Ardenvohr Street in East Belfast

Residents living near a new paramilitary mural in east Belfast say they are frustrated at being "dragged back into the past".

The depiction of two masked gunmen firing rifles and prison huts appeared on the junction of Carlingford Street and Ardenvohr Street off the Woodstock Road.

The outline appeared just a couple of weeks after the controversial move to paint over a mural of George Best in Sydenham's Inverwood Court. It was replaced by a UVF gunman.

One woman, who spoke out angrily against the mural, made it clear that residents were not free to express their views.

"As you know, you can't say anything," she said. "I do not agree with it. Look at it. I pity the poor girl living opposite who has to look at it. I thought we were supposed to be moving on from this. It's not good for the area.

"I thought we had put all this behind us. I don't even know what it's meant to be about."

One businesswoman on the Woodstock Road agreed: "Generally, I do not think it is good for the area and for businesses. We're being dragged back into the past."

One shop owner shrugged off the new addition to the area, pointing to a UVF 1912 themed mural at the opposite end of Ardenvohr Street and one celebrating the Ulster Covenant.

"There are already murals in the area," he said. "I do not think this will make a big difference.

"Most of my customers are Polish. There are a lot of Polish people who live round here, so who knows what they think of it all."

Another man said it was "territorial", and "inevitable" after disputes over flags and parading.

"The same murals are in nationalist areas. The murals don't actually really bother me."

He added that he was more concerned about getting rid of loyalist graffiti in the area and claimed the City Council wouldn't clean it up for fear of intimidation.

"It's all up and down this road, references to the La Mon bomb and the Sinn Fein vote," he said.

"We're told by the council to get black paint and paint it over ourselves."

On Wednesday, the UVF-linked PUP strongly condemned the painting of the new mural.

PUP councillor John Kyle tweeted: "Once again the E Belfast UVF show nothing but contempt for the views of the community and erect another offensive mural."

DUP councillor Gavin Robinson, who described the new addition as "outrageous", said he had spoken to the police who were considering their options.

However, a senior member of Sinn Fein yesterday criticised unionist parties for showing "poor leadership" during a year and a half of sectarian street violence and demonstrations.

In a speech at St Andrew's University in Scotland, Sinn Fein chairman Declan Kearney warned the peace process cannot be taken for granted and sections of political unionism "are opposed to progressive political and social change".

Calling for an end to "negative politics", he also claimed some unionist politicians and paramilitaries are "locked in a race to the sectarian bottom in a bid to win votes".

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