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Giro d'Italia: Removing Belfast terror murals a 'is just hiding our sectarian behaviour'


Published 18/02/2014

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

REMOVING sectarian murals and flags along the route of the Giro d'Italia would be like a "dysfunctional family who want to hide their behaviour when visitors come calling", it has been claimed.

Sporting attention will be on Northern Ireland when the Giro d'Italia international cycle race rolls into town in May.

The Giro is expected to be watched by up to 800m TV viewers, but there are fears that the image of Northern Ireland will be damaged when viewers see riders cycling past paramilitary murals and flags.

That concern prompted Alliance MLA Anna Lo to call for sectarian symbols to be removed from the route.

"Funding will be made available in towns along the route to improve the image of eyesores such as derelict buildings but I have a bigger problem with images of paramilitary gunmen," said the European election candidate.

"Do we really want these images to be visible on the route when millions of people will be watching the race on television?"

Yesterday, the new chairman of the Community Relations Council Peter Osborne said the real need is not to simply hide the behaviour, but to change it.

"We all know that murals and flying flags on lamp posts can be intimidating and used to mark out territory," said Mr Osborne (left), the former Parades Commission chairman.

"While welcoming the idea of removing murals and flags from lamp posts on the route of the Giro d'Italia, it does remind me of a dysfunctional family who want to hide their behaviour when visitors come calling.

"I understand why there are calls to remove the flags and emblems and murals on the race route. Something is better than nothing.

"But for many people these things are an everyday reality not just on the route of the Giro d'Italia."

There have already been calls for European election posters to be removed during the race.

Ms Lo said: "The very same arguments that politicians have been making about taking down election posters to showcase Northern Ireland and our beautiful scenery, also applies to flags and paramilitary murals."


The Giro d'Italia is a long distance road bicycle race for professional cyclists that runs over three weeks. The Grande Partenza ('Big Start') section will take place from May 9-11, 2014, and involves routes through Belfast, the Causeway Coast and Armagh before moving on to Dublin. More than 200 of the top professional cyclists from across the globe will be in Northern Ireland to take part.

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