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Loyalist murals return to east Belfast, and few welcome them

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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

The new mural in Sydenham is the result of a big community push

UDA mural

UDA mural

An Ulster Defence Association (UDA) mural on the Shankill Road, Belfast

An Ulster Defence Association (UDA) mural on the Shankill Road, Belfast

A Republican mural in West Belfast. 2009

A Republican mural in West Belfast. 2009

A loyalist mural in the Shankhill area of Belfast on March 14, 2009

A loyalist mural in the Shankhill area of Belfast on March 14, 2009

Jeff J Mitchell

The Bobby Sands mural, in the Falls Road area of Belfast

The Bobby Sands mural, in the Falls Road area of Belfast

Jeff J Mitchell

A loyalist mural in the Shankhill area on March 14, 2009 in Belfast

A loyalist mural in the Shankhill area on March 14, 2009 in Belfast

Jeff J Mitchell

A republican mural off the Falls road area of Belfast on March 14, 2009

A republican mural off the Falls road area of Belfast on March 14, 2009

Jeff J Mitchell

A republican mural in the Ballymurphy estate in Belfast on March 14, 2009

A republican mural in the Ballymurphy estate in Belfast on March 14, 2009

Jeff J Mitchell

Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) wall mural in north Belfast.  2007

Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) wall mural in north Belfast. 2007

Paul Faith

UVF mural at Ballybeen.

UVF mural at Ballybeen.

Ian Magill.

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 Republican mural is seen on the side of a house in the Bogside are of Derry, the scene of the 'Bloody Sunday' shootings. 2005

Christopher Furlong

A protestant loyalist mural in the Shankhill area of Belfast on March 14, 2009.

A protestant loyalist mural in the Shankhill area of Belfast on March 14, 2009.

Jeff J Mitchell

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 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 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 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.

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

A UVF wall mural in the mount vernon area of North Belfast.8/1/09

Wall mural Newtownards Road, Belfast, 1992

Wall mural Newtownards Road, Belfast, 1992

UDA wall mural in the Shankill Road area.8/9/09

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.

Designers used traditional mural skills and digital production skills for new murals in Belfast. 2009.

Alan Lewis

INLA wall mural

INLA wall mural

Republican mural in West Belfast. 1998

Republican mural in West Belfast. 1998

Republican mural

Republican mural

Alan Lewis

Michael Ellis (10) practising his band stick skills in front of a new 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

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

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 in east Belfast for Jame Magennis VC

Mural at the corner of Beechmont Avenue and Falls Road

Mural at the corner of Beechmont Avenue and Falls Road

The peace mural which is to be recreated in Washington by the Bogside Artists

The peace mural which is to be recreated in Washington by the Bogside Artists

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One of the two new murals being painted on a gable wall in east Belfast

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


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