Belfast Telegraph

Friday 27 November 2015

Public backlash halts new UVF paramilitary mural replacing George Best image in east Belfast

By Michelle Smyth

Published 14/09/2013

UVF mural in Sydenham, depicting a masked gunman, replacing George Best image
UVF mural in Sydenham, depicting a masked gunman, replacing George Best image

Public outrage has stalled work on a paramilitary mural in east Belfast that had covered up an iconic image of football legend George Best.

The new UVF mural at Inverwood Court in Sydenham depicts a masked gunman.

It is emblazoned with the quote "freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed".

The terrorist painting now remains unfinished as a result of widespread negative reaction to it.

The mural it replaces was a tribute to Best, who was from east Belfast, and was unveiled just three years ago in front of members of his family. The mural, which came about as a result of European funding, depicted Best in his Northern Ireland jersey.

It formed part of a Belfast City Council regeneration project to tackle sectarianism by removing paramilitary murals.

Welcoming the move, PUP councillor John Kyle said street art should be positive and give hope to the community. He revealed those responsible for the UVF mural had suspended work as a result of the huge public backlash.

He said there are currently discussions going on and that those behind it are re-assessing whether it is still a good idea.

Alliance councillor Andrew Webb also welcomed the news and said the UVF mural was being used to "intimidate and act as a territorial marker".

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