New UVF mural of masked gunmen in east Belfast 'despicable' says Sinn Fein
A new paramilitary mural in east Belfast has been condemned as a “despicable sectarian banner” by Sinn Fein.
The depiction of two masked gunmen from the East Belfast Battalion of the UVF holding rifles with the words ‘The prevention of the erosion of our identity is now our priority’ has appeared on a wall in the Belvoir Street area.
Last week Sinn Fein called on the DUP to make clear its opposition to loyalist paramilitary groups after masked men removed the republican party’s election posters for their North Belfast candidate John Finucane.
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The party’s South Belfast MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir has now urged the DUP to condemn those behind the mural.
He said: “In just the past week loyalist gangs have intimidated the DUP’s electoral opponents, erected banners targeting John Finucane and his family, and are now issuing public threats of violence.
“It is of note that this criminality is taking place as the DUP continue to cosy up to these groups in the mouth of an election.
“The DUP should unequivocally condemn these banners, those who erected them, and the spate of recent criminality carried out by these gangs.”
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In response, a DUP spokesperson said: “Sinn Fein has the unrepentant Shankill bomber on their canvass team, spends most weekends celebrating and glorifying the IRA so no one will take a lecture from anyone in Sinn Fein on paramilitaries.
“Frustration over culture and identity should not be an excuse to cause fear and intimidation within a community. The DUP is against any glorification of paramilitary groups — loyalist or republican. Our party condemns all those who cling to criminality and violence. Flags or any other emblems supporting paramilitaries have no place in our communities.”
SDLP councillor for Lisnasharragh Seamas de Faoite said the reappearance of paramilitary murals in East Belfast is deeply alarming and totally unacceptable.
“More than 20 years on from the Good Friday Agreement it is clear that paramilitary organisations are attempting to use coercive control and the threat of violence to subvert the rule of law and hold power over local communities,” he said.
“There can be no space for those who seek to operate outside of the law, against the direct wishes of the public and in contravention of the principles of the Agreement.
“Those organisations and their spokespersons must now leave the field.
“I will be raising this matter with the PSNI and those inter-agency bodies who are leading the way in tackling paramilitarism.”
Alliance Titanic Councillor Michelle Kelly said there was no place for images of paramilitary gunmen in society.
She added: “Murals containing the glorification of terrorism need removed, if we have any hope of moving our society forward.
“Images demarcating territory and attempting to control areas through fear and intimidation have no role to play in that.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital