Condemnation of UVF mural
There has been widespread condemnation of a new paramilitary mural that is being painted on a wall in east Belfast.
The new mural depicts two masked gunmen with rifles raised and two Maze Prison style Nissen huts and is being painted on a wall at the junction of Carlingford Street and Ardenvohr Street.
East Belfast Alliance Councillor Maire Hendron said: "This is a setback for our society. It is simply being used to intimidate, mark territory and create fear among local people. We should not accept the appearance of this sickening image of masked gunmen.
"As we attempt to move our society forward towards a shared future, we should not tolerate this divisive behaviour. I condemn this and all other paramilitary images and symbols.
"I am particularly disappointed given the willingness of many communities to accept the re-imaging process to make murals more inclusive.
"Symbols and emblems are being discussed at the cross party Haass talks. This new mural has shown the importance of reaching agreement on this and the other issues under consideration.
"I will be raising this matter with the Police to see what action can be taken by the authorities."
NI Conservatives' co-chair, Trevor Ringland said: "This mural, which features UVF gunmen, evokes a dark and murderous past, which the vast majority of people in the community want to leave behind.
"Yet again, it sends out an appalling message to the young people of east Belfast and it is another example of a paramilitary organisation attempting to celebrate and justify its campaign of violence and criminality. It is simply not acceptable in a Northern Ireland which is trying to move forward and offer a peaceful, hopeful future for generations to come.
"As a society, we have to challenge those who want to glorify paramilitarism robustly. While the context in which violence took place drew in many who would not otherwise have broken the law, their campaigns brutalised and damaged their own communities and the whole of Northern Ireland. To counter continuing efforts to glorify and justify the acts of paramilitary organisations, an effort should be made to bring victims of their unlawful acts into schools, particularly in the areas where these celebrations occur, to explain the heartache, pain and damage which terror inflicted.
"With the two new UVF murals in Belfast, the Brian Robinson parade, the republican celebration in Castlederg and an event to celebrate the Shankill bomber, Thomas Begley, and against a backdrop where there are still shootings and unlawful violence, a new challenge is needed.
"We simply mustn't allow children to become infected with hatred or dragged into conflict with the law, by people who are still trying to justify a bloody, hopeless past."