Belfast Telegraph

Hope is essential: IRA graffiti in Belfast painted over with Pride flag

By Michael Sheils McNamee

Activists have painted over IRA graffiti in west Belfast with the Pride rainbow flag.

The action was taken by Green party member Stevie Maginn, with the flag altering the text of graffiti which read: 'IRA here to stay'.

The message on the wall has been altered so the rainbow flag covers the first two words, leaving only the rainbow flag and the words 'to stay'.

"The thinking was that with all the chaos we have at the minute, no executive, Brexit coming, I saw an opportunity to re-imagine something for my local community," Mr Maginn told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I walked past that everyday, and for the past couple of weeks and I was going with my nephews on my way to the park as well. And I thought eventually they are going to ask about it. And I thought why not have them ask about LGBT issues, as a queer person myself," he said.

The 26-year-old Ballymurphy man is a student of human rights and transitional justice at the Transitional Justice Institute in Ulster University.

Mr Maginn said his course had included a module on memory and restorative justice, something which had focused on the use of graffiti and street art in Northern Ireland.

Mr Maginn expressed his thanks to Maeve O'Connor Sinead Magner, and Eimear O'Brien, who helped him paint the rainbow flag.

He said the response had been "overwhelmingly positive" from the local community around Ballymurphy and Whiterock.

Asked if he was hopeful the message would remain up, he said: "Hope is essential to the whole reason we did it, and I am very hopeful it will stay up.

"I think is the first pride image I have seen in my community. In terms of coming to terms with my own sexuality, I hope it gives other young people in the community hope for themselves."

Graffiti is illegal in Northern Ireland and local councils have the authority to remove it and issue fines.

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