Belfast Telegraph

Paramilitary murals get the brush-off as artists aim to paint east Belfast in a positive light

By Dave Whelan

A new controversial UVF mural in east Belfast will not hinder the way of progressive plans to remove a total of 22 paramilitary murals in the area, according to the local community.

In the week that saw the completion of a UVF dedicated painting on the junction of Carlingford Street and Ardenvohr Street, the community organisation Charter NI has announced plans to unveil three new pieces of community artwork in inner east Belfast.

These will replace more contentious murals and the group aims to progress to replacing 22 paramilitary murals in total as part of its Communities Moving Forward Reimaging Programme.

Artists John Stewart and Blaze fx have teamed up with the local community to design the artwork which will feature images of colonel Tim Collins, some well known east Belfast boxers and changing times in east Belfast.

On Monday, local Alliance councillor Maire Hendron described the completion of the paramilitary mural, dedicated to four UVF men killed during the Troubles, as a "setback for society" adding that it was "simply being used to intimidate, mark territory and create fear among local people".

However on the new project she said she was delighted to see new artwork showing positive images the vast majority of people living in this area want to see.

"Charter NI has shown great leadership in working with local people to find out how they want their community to be represented, she said."

The results of this partnership working are plain for everyone to see. The new images of local heroes who have succeeded in the world of boxing; the positive words of Col Tim Collins and moving forward from our dark days to a new and brighter future are all statements we can support.

The project received funding from both Belfast City Council's Good Relations Partnership and the Housing Executive's Community Cohesion Unit.

Sam White of Charter NI said: "The Community Moving Forward Programme is a progressive process, albeit given the complexity in and around re-imaging in east Belfast.

"The concept highlights the positive attitudes that lie within working class communities and further showcases the will for change."

There was further controversy last month when a mural of famous footballer George Best in Inverwood Court was painted over with an image of a UVF gunman.

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