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Chilling Belfast terror mural gives way to artwork remembering Somme

By Rebecca Black

Published 21/01/2016

The terrorist emblem it is replacing
The terrorist emblem it is replacing
The new mural takes shape on the Newtownards Road
Murals down the years ... former IRA sniper and Sinn Fein politician Martin Meehan aiming a rifle
Murals down the years ... The Shankill Star Flute Band in Belfast carries a Lambeg drum dedicated to the memory of Brian Robinson, a UVF terrorist who shot Paddy McKenna dead at Ardoyne in 1989
Murals down the years ... A huge UFF mural was beamed to the world as cyclists passed it during May's Giro d'Italia
Murals down the years ... republican mural depicting former north Belfast IRA man Martin Meehan is revealed in the Ardoyne area of Belfast.
Republican mural depicting former north Belfast IRA leader Martin Meehan revealed in the Ardoyne area of Belfast
A new UVF mural is being painted in Willowfield
The UVF mural painted over one of George Best at Inverwood Court in east Belfast
Going back: The absurd psychology of paramilitarism fixating on UVF gunmen and Bobby Sands instead of icons like George Best, shows their mawkish self-mythologising
A mural at Free Derry Corner depicting the events of Bloody Sunday.
Residents gathered to watch the unveiling of the new mural opposite the Catholic church in Harryville, Ballymena, County Antrim. The old loyalist paramilitary mural close to a Catholic church which was the scene of weekly protests in the 1990s was removed at the weekend. It was replaced by an Ulster Scots mural featuring symbols such as a shamrock and Red Hand of Ulster. 2/4/06
Going back: The absurd psychology of paramilitarism fixating on UVF gunmen and Bobby Sands instead of icons like George Best, shows their mawkish self-mythologising
Fading Memories. A mural of David Healy at Carnforth Street, east Belfast
A project recording experiences of key figures from the Troubles and the peace process has been launched
File photo dated 03/05/07 of a Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) wall mural in north Belfast.
The mural by artist Ross Wilson celebrating King Williams 1690 battle with King James replaces a UFF mural on a gabel wall on Linfield Avenue Sandy Row.
The Civil Rights mural in the Bogside.
Parade commemorating Brian Robinson - Shankill Road, Belfast
Born identity: The UDA mural in east Belfast where many young Protestants say pride in the British Army, and anger at flag protests, have reinforced their sense of Britishness
One of the mural, "Bernadette" in the Bogside. Supplied Picture
A Loyalist mural on the Newtownards road in Belfast
A Thomas Devlin murder appeal poster beside a UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) mural in the Mount Vernon area of North Belfast opposite the flats where one of his killers had lived.
UDA wall mural in the Shankill Road area.8/9/09
Healy among the greats at Windsor Park
Belfast murals. A mural off the Newtownards Road dedicated to 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' author C.S Lewis who was from the area. 2010.
Republican mural in West Belfast. 1998
A republican mural in the Ballymurphy estate in Belfast on March 14, 2009
A loyalist mural in the Shankhill area of Belfast on March 14, 2009
A republican mural off the Falls road area of Belfast on March 14, 2009
YCV paramilitary mural in the Village, Belfast

A sinister loyalist mural in east Belfast has been removed to make way for a new image to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, it can be revealed.

A large Red Hand Commando crest featuring two masked gunmen adorned the gable wall on the lower Newtownards Road until this week.

It has now been painted white and work is ongoing at the site.

So far two poppies have been painted, but it is not known exactly what sort of scene the new mural will depict.

A smaller Red Hand Commando crest beside the main mural appears to have been left untouched.

A spokesman for East Belfast ACT confirmed the mural replaced a Red Hand Commando image.

They said they understand the new mural will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, adding that there will be further murals and exhibitions happening throughout east Belfast in the coming months.

The Red Hand Commando is understood to have been formed in 1972 and was closely linked to the UVF.

It was proscribed in 1973 and was linked to a number of murders and bombings during the 1970s, '80s and '90s, including the killing of former Sinn Fein vice-president Maire Drumm in 1973.

The RHC announced a ceasefire in 2007 and decommissioned in 2009.

The new mural, honouring UDA gunman Stephen McKeag, in the lower Shankill area
The new mural, honouring UDA gunman Stephen McKeag, in the lower Shankill area
The sabotaged mural of former Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers on the International Peace Wall in west Belfast
Murals down the years ... former IRA sniper and Sinn Fein politician Martin Meehan aiming a rifle
Murals down the years ... The Shankill Star Flute Band in Belfast carries a Lambeg drum dedicated to the memory of Brian Robinson, a UVF terrorist who shot Paddy McKenna dead at Ardoyne in 1989
Murals down the years ... A huge UFF mural was beamed to the world as cyclists passed it during May's Giro d'Italia
Republican mural depicting former north Belfast IRA man Martin Meehan is revealed in the Ardoyne area of Belfast.
Republican mural depicting former north Belfast IRA leader Martin Meehan revealed in the Ardoyne area of Belfast
UVF mural is being painted in Willowfield
The UVF mural painted over one of George Best at Inverwood Court in east Belfast
Going back: The absurd psychology of paramilitarism fixating on UVF gunmen and Bobby Sands instead of icons like George Best, shows their mawkish self-mythologising
A mural at Free Derry Corner depicting the events of Bloody Sunday.
Residents gathered to watch the unveiling of the new mural opposite the Catholic church in Harryville, Ballymena, County Antrim. The old loyalist paramilitary mural close to a Catholic church which was the scene of weekly protests in the 1990s was removed at the weekend. It was replaced by an Ulster Scots mural featuring symbols such as a shamrock and Red Hand of Ulster. 2/4/06
Bobby Sands
Fading Memories. A mural of David Healy at Carnforth Street, east Belfast
A project recording experiences of key figures from the Troubles and the peace process has been launched
File photo dated 03/05/07 of a Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) wall mural in north Belfast.
The mural by artist Ross Wilson celebrating King Williams 1690 battle with King James replaces a UFF mural on a gabel wall on Linfield Avenue Sandy Row.
The Civil Rights mural in the Bogside.
Parade commemorating Brian Robinson - Shankill Road, Belfast
Born identity: The UDA mural in east Belfast where many young Protestants say pride in the British Army, and anger at flag protests, have reinforced their sense of Britishness
One of the mural, "Bernadette" in the Bogside. Supplied Picture
A Loyalist mural on the Newtownards road in Belfast
A Thomas Devlin murder appeal poster beside a UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) mural in the Mount Vernon area of North Belfast opposite the flats where one of his killers had lived.
UDA wall mural in the Shankill Road area.8/9/09
Healy among the greats at Windsor Park
Belfast murals. A mural off the Newtownards Road dedicated to 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' author C.S Lewis who was from the area. 2010.
Republican mural in West Belfast. 1998
A republican mural in the Ballymurphy estate in Belfast on March 14, 2009
A loyalist mural in the Shankhill area of Belfast on March 14, 2009
A republican mural off the Falls road area of Belfast on March 14, 2009
YCV paramilitary mural in the Village, Belfast

DUP MLA Robin Newton welcomed the latest reimaging work and said he would encourage the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Housing Executive to continue supporting the local community in their work with the murals. PUP councillor John Kyle also welcomed the transformation of the mural.

"There has been a programme of work under way in east Belfast, where murals are being expanded to cover a broader subject matter," he said.

"I would welcome this latest mural transformation, if it is going to feature the Battle of the Somme, it is very timely with this being the centenary of the battle.

"The Battle of the Somme is very important in terms of the history of the unionist community here."

Work continues to replace a number of murals in east Belfast. Last year, nine murals on Lord Street were transformed from paramilitary to cultural images, including one of the Belfast Giants.

In total, 23 murals across east Belfast are being - or have already been - reimaged, including the freshening up of a Titanic mural. However, a series of UDA murals known as Freedom Corner were repainted as they were, and another sinister black and white UVF mural depicting hooded gunmen proclaiming the right to defend themselves remains on a gable wall on the Newtownards Road.

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