Parties unite to condemn IRA gunmen mural

A new mural of a republican funeral  at Slemish way in west Belfast
A new mural of a republican funeral at Slemish way in west Belfast

Nationalist and unionist representatives have united to condemn a west Belfast mural of armed and masked IRA gunmen firing a volley of shots over a coffin.

The feature is understood to relate to the funeral of Kieran Doherty, who died while on hunger strike at the Maze Prison in 1981.

West Belfast SDLP Councillor Tim Attwood said: “The SDLP believes it is now time we all advanced healing and national reconciliation by moving away from promoting violent images of the Past. There are too many murals in West Belfast which highlight armed men and violence. It is time we re-imaged West Belfast by promoting colourful positive sporting, cultural and community images.

“It is important there is a consistent message from all parties condemning murals which promote armed men, or paramilitary organisations, whether it is in East Belfast or West Belfast.”

Alliance Belfast Councillor Nuala McAllister also condemned the mural.

“There can be no place for images of paramilitary gunmen in our society,” she said. “I am opposed to any mural or image which would seek to glorify terrorism.

“This mural must be replaced. This is not the sort of image that Northern Ireland should be portraying and is counter-productive as we seek to promote a shared future.

“As we attempt to move our society forward, this task is made more difficult by those who seek to demarcate territory through the use of paramilitary murals.”

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said it should be condemned by everyone.

“This mural is a glorification of terrorism and an attempt to drag Northern Ireland backwards,” he said. “There is no place for such glorification, whether in a mural such as this or in a speech delivered by republican elected representatives.

“This mural must be condemned by representatives from all sides, and agreement that terrorism has never been justified. It is important that no distinction is drawn between those who engage in violence and terror today and those who may have used such tactics in the past.”

‎PUP Leader councillor Billy Hutchinson responded that it was “just another example of how they [republicans] cast out judgements on others for the very things they do themselves regularly, and as a matter of course”. He added: “Every time a flag ‎is raised in a Loyalist area or a mural goes up on a wall, Republicans lead the procession of criticism. We are not against Republicans commemorating their history as they see fit, but they should allow Loyalists to do the same.”

Sinn Fein has not yet issued a statement on the matter.