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Storm damage at root of the problem for 'Rihanna tree'

By Nevin Farrell

One of the most photographed trees in Northern Ireland - which featured in an award-winning video by pop star Rihanna - has been damaged by storms.

But "reports of the tree's death have been greatly exaggerated", according to the farmer on whose land it is situated - Alderman Alan Graham, the DUP mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council.

Four years ago, Mr Graham famously objected to Rihanna undressing for her 'We Found Love' video being shot on his property. The video went on to win the best video of the year award at the MTV VMAs.

Mr Graham's farm is located on the main road from Bangor to Belfast and the tree has become a tourist attraction since the controversy.

Mr Graham says that people still come along and photograph the tree at all times of the day and night.

After photos emerged on Sunday of the 'Rihanna Tree' being damaged by Storm Clodagh, with branches littering the ground, Mr Graham said although the tree has been dying for some time, he does not believe it is dead yet.

He said last night: "The tree is about 300 yards from my house and there was a wild bit of wind and there were a few branches off it. It has been dying for quite a few years because the field is constantly ploughed and I suppose it means the roots have got disturbed. It has been on its last legs for a few years. I would say one foot in the grave would describe it.

"It is partially dead, some of the main branches on it would be completely dead, but there is a bit of life coming out of one side of it. Some of these days it will possibly blow right over, but reports of its death are greatly exaggerated.

"Quite a lot of people would photograph it, some people would even come at night. There was a gentleman painted it years ago.

"It seems to create a lot of interest for photos; it is on the brow of the hill and is quite distinctive. Some people photograph it from the road and some come on to my land and some people ask and some people don't, but it doesn't really cause any problems."

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