Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist murals return to east Belfast, and few welcome them

One of the two new murals being painted on a gable wall in east Belfast
One of the two new murals being painted on a gable wall in east Belfast
The new mural in Sydenham is the result of a big community push
UDA mural
An Ulster Defence Association (UDA) mural on the Shankill Road, Belfast
A Republican mural in West Belfast. 2009
A loyalist mural in the Shankhill area of Belfast on March 14, 2009
The Bobby Sands mural, in the Falls Road area of Belfast
A loyalist mural in the Shankhill area on March 14, 2009 in Belfast
A republican mural off the Falls road area of Belfast on March 14, 2009
A republican mural in the Ballymurphy estate in Belfast on March 14, 2009
Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) wall mural in north Belfast. 2007
UVF mural at Ballybeen.
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
A protestant loyalist mural in the Shankhill area of Belfast on March 14, 2009.
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.
Belfast murals. A George Best mural on the Woodstock Road in east Belfast.
Belfast murals. A peace mural on the lower Newtownards Road in east Belfast.
Belfast murals. A football mural on the Albert Bridge Road in east Belfast celebrating Northern Ireland's win over England in 2005.
A UVF wall mural in the mount vernon area of North Belfast.8/1/09
Wall mural Newtownards Road, Belfast, 1992
UDA wall mural in the Shankill Road area.8/9/09
Designers used traditional mural skills and digital production skills for new murals in Belfast. 2009.
INLA wall mural
Republican mural in West Belfast. 1998
Republican mural
Michael Ellis (10) practising his band stick skills in front of a new mural
Children from a local school painting a new mural in the lower Shankill area
A mural on the Falls Road in west Belfast ahead of the visit of US President George Bush to the Stormont Castle in Belfast
Mural in east Belfast for Jame Magennis VC
Mural at the corner of Beechmont Avenue and Falls Road
The peace mural which is to be recreated in Washington by the Bogside Artists

By Deborah McAleese

The transformation of paramilitary murals that once loomed over many Northern Ireland housing estates has been a work in progress for some years now.

But in what has been described as a “backward step”, new murals of loyalist gunmen are currently being painted in east Belfast.

One businessman said the new paintings, depicting UVF paramilitaries holding machine-guns, are a tribute to the city’s past. But both loyalist and republican politicians said they are sending out the wrong message and must go.

The murals, currently being painted on the lower Newtownards Road, recall a sinister and violent past. Many murals across the city have been transformed into more welcoming images that still reflect heritage and culture.

While a number have been preserved — and have proven to be a big tourist attraction — the images in east Belfast are the first new paramilitary murals to appear.

PUP councillor for the area John Kyle said he does not think there is much community support for the new images.

“There hasn’t been any community consultation in regards to this. A few individuals appear to have taken it upon themselves. I’m not aware of much community support.”

Sinn Fein councillor Nial O Donnghaile said the images are intimidating for anyone travelling on the Newtownards Road, and called them “a backward step”.

He said: “The best response will come from the community. Is this really what they want? I doubt it,” he said.

But one businessman, who asked not to be identified, said he had no problem with the images.

He said: “They are a tribute to our past, I suppose. But I have heard a few locals saying they don’t like them. They’ll be too afraid to say anything. As for me, I could take them or leave them.”

Background

Paramilitary murals were painted to depict history, political views and to mark territory. In recent years many have been replaced under a Government scheme to redecorate walls with more welcoming images. Some have been preserved, having become tourist attractions. Currently two new murals of loyalist paramilitary gunmen are being painted in east Belfast.

Loyalism’s struggle to carve out an identity

By Brian Rowan

It is a picture on the wall that sends out a completely wrong message.

The drawings in east Belfast are a grim reminder of conflict, of guns and shootings and of the dark days.

This UVF is meant to be an organisation that has moved into a “non-military, civilianised role”.

But these drawings are about war, not peace, about the old, not the new.

These murals are not just a problem in east Belfast, and not just a problem for the UVF.

In the south of the city at the entrance to Sandy Row there is another masked eyesore.

The UDA ‘brigadier’ Jackie McDonald wants it replaced — and knows that if it is not then those who are considering investing in the area will look elsewhere.

Loyalism is still struggling to find its place in the peace process.

In some communities it believes it owns the streets, and the people have to stay silent.

What the UVF is doing is putting distance between itself and the people — people who want to live in peace.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph