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Pressure grows for Northern Ireland murals to be scrubbed out

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 13/04/2010

A Republican mural in West Belfast. 2009
A Republican mural in West Belfast. 2009
UDA wall mural in the Shankill Road area.8/9/09
Wall mural Newtownards Road, Belfast, 1992
A UVF wall mural in the mount vernon area of North Belfast.8/1/09
A protestant loyalist mural in the Shankhill area of Belfast on March 14, 2009.
A Republican mural is seen on the side of a house in the Bogside are of Derry, the scene of the 'Bloody Sunday' shootings. 2005
UVF mural at Ballybeen.
Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) wall mural in north Belfast. 2007
Republican mural in West Belfast. 1998
A loyalist mural in the Shankhill area on March 14, 2009 in Belfast
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
The Bobby Sands mural, in the Falls Road area of Belfast
Belfast murals. A football mural on the Albert Bridge Road in east Belfast celebrating Northern Ireland's win over England in 2005.
Belfast murals. A peace mural on the lower Newtownards Road in east Belfast.
Belfast murals. A George Best mural on the Woodstock Road in east Belfast.
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.
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.
Northern Ireland Football Heroes Mural
INLA wall mural
Artist Daniela Balmaverde with her mural in the Alliance Parade area of Belfast
Bernadette McAliskey as portrayed in a mural on the side of a house in the Bogside area of Londonderry
Republican mural
The new murals, designed to chart the social, cultural and industrial heritage of the lower Shankill
A mural at the top of the Whiterock Road
Free Derry Corner, which was dramatically covered by a mural on Saturday to mark the city’s annual Gasyard Feile
Writing on the wall for weapons: A woman walks past a loyalist paramilitary mural in Belfast

The writing could be on the wall for Northern Ireland’s world famous murals after politicians said it could be time to have them whitewashed.

As the Belfast Telegraph revealed yesterday there appears to be growing support for the landmark paintings and drawings to be replaced by non-political messages.

SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley, who sits on the culture, arts and leisure committee at Stormont, said many murals were displayed without community support.

“I think it’s time we removed all aspects of paramilitarism from society, and that includes murals,” he said.

“Many of these murals were foisted on communities whether they wanted them or liked them, and do not reflect the views of local people. While there may be some artistic merit in them, it’s time that these areas were unbranded and the murals removed.”

Mr Bradley believes they should be replaced with non-political images reflecting Northern Ireland’s culture.

UUP MLA Ken Robinson, who also sits on the committee, said the murals’ relevance had declined in recent years.

“We are seeing these murals phased out and I think it represents the times we live in,” he said. “Soon there will be no place for them other than as a historical record. However, you have to remember that 30 years of our history is encapsulated in some of these murals, regardless of what you think about the content.”

Last summer the Lower Shankill Community Association was involved in a project to replace 10 paramilitary murals with new images of culture and heritage. The Association’s Ian McLaughlin said there had been a positive feedback from the community.

He said: “It was a community-driven initiative and among the replacement murals were boxers from a bygone era and an A to Z of the greater Shankill area. None of the new murals have been damaged or attacked.”

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