Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

UVF loyalist paramilitary mural painted over George Best tribute wall 'is casting a sinister shadow over east Belfast'

The new paramilitary mural in east Belfast showing a UVF gunman and a quote from Martin Luther King
The new paramilitary mural in east Belfast showing a UVF gunman and a quote from Martin Luther King

The completion of a new loyalist paramilitary mural which has replaced one of football legend George Best has cast a "sinister shadow" over east Belfast, it has been claimed.

The image of a masked gunman – alongside a quote immortalised by American civil rights leader Martin Luther King – was finished yesterday despite hopes that it had been stopped because of public concern.

Work on the mural, at Inverwood Court in the Sydenham area, was suspended following a public backlash earlier this month, and to allow dialogue between those responsible and those opposed to it. East Belfast PUP councillor John Kyle (right) said it was a retrograde step by hardline elements who had ignored majority will in the area.

"This has been done without consultation and without regard to the will of the majority of the people," Mr Kyle said.

Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle said: "The completion of this mural casts a sinister shadow over everything that is positive in east Belfast."

He said the use of a famous quote by Rev Martin Luther King was "perverse beyond belief".

He called for an immediate replacement of the "anti-civil rights and anti-east Belfast" mural.

The image is dedicated to the terrorist UVF, which was responsible for the murders of more than 500 people during the Troubles.

Dr Kyle, whose party has links to the UVF, said the development put renewed importance on the ongoing negotiations chaired by former US diplomat Richard Haass.

But he said there will be no imminent campaign to have the mural restored to its original image.

"Clearly there is considerable unrest within loyalist communities and what they feel has been an unfair suppression of their culture.

"But putting young men (with guns) on gable walls is not celebrating loyalist culture," he added.

"I think this mural is intimidating and we do not need to be intimidated. But at the minute we are just sitting tight."

He stressed that the image was representative of a narrow "hardline" section of people.

"Over the past few weeks people have called into my constituency office and spoken to me at the health centre.

"People think it's a retrograde step. I would not like to put figures on it, but I would say that when the issue is raised the vast majority of people make it clear that they are not happy.

"People want to celebrate the successes of east Belfast, and George Best represented that."

QUOTE

"Clearly there is considerable unrest within loyalist communities and what they feel has been an unfair suppression of their culture.

"But putting young men on gable walls is not celebrating loyalist culture.

"I think this mural is intimidating and we do not need to be intimidated."

– East Belfast PUP councillor Dr John Kyle

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz