New mural celebrates team's achievement in making it to Euros
A new mural that marks Northern Ireland's achievement in reaching the Euro 2016 finals was unveiled yesterday in east Belfast.
Painted by local artist John Stewart, the mural features Northern Ireland soccer star Gareth McAuley rising from the steel girders of Parisian landmark the Eiffel Tower while brandishing a French flag.
The mural replaces an earlier artwork featuring striker David Healy - hero of Northern Ireland's 2005 victory over England - and shares its uplifting motto of pride, passion and belief.
The Healy mural had fallen into disrepair in the 11 years since it was first painted, with layers of paint flaking from the bricks.
East Belfast MLA Sammy Douglas was the catalyst behind the creation of the McAuley image. Artist John (43), completed the work in less than a week.
"I sketched it out on Saturday and then starting painting it on Sunday, so I imagine I will have it finished by Thursday if all goes well," he said. "I might add a few more faces to it at a later stage including the manager Michael O'Neill or Kyle Lafferty. It depends on how they all get on, too.
"We don't want to ignore the David Healy mural that was previously there and I think it will be replaced somewhere else.
"It won't be ignored, but I understand it may go near Windsor Park."