A north Belfast councillor has called for the removal of a new mural tribute to veteran IRA commander Martin Meehan.
The gable wall artwork was unveiled in the Ardoyne yesterday with members of the Meehan family in attendance.
It shows Meehan – who served a total of 18 years in jails on both sides of the Irish border for terrorist-related offences – wearing paramilitary-style clothing and pointing a rifle. Meehan, who became a Sinn Fein politician, died suddenly of a heart condition in 2007 aged 62.
Alliance councillor John Blair said it was disappointing to see the mural appearing: “This move is not representative of the local community, which does not want to see the image of a paramilitary gunman displayed on their doorsteps. Alliance is against any murals or banners that demarcate territory and glorify violence of any kind.
“They have no place in a safe and shared community. We must find ways to separate the negative aspects of the past from respectful commemoration.”
The Meehan tribute has been produced as pressure continues to mount on the UVF over a new wave of loyalist paramilitary murals in the east Belfast.
Cllr Blair added: “It is difficult to see how the depiction of gunmen can inspire people to play a constructive role in the community and it memorialises the darkest parts of our past rather than the change people have made or the more positive aspects of our heritage.
“I would urge those behind this banner to remove it immediately.”
Writing on a republican website ahead of yesterday’s unveiling, three of Meehan’s children – Kevin, Martin jnr and Mary Meehan – said their father’s “contribution to Irish freedom is legendary”.
They said: “Our father defended Irish national sovereignty as well as countless communities against unionist and British attacks.
“He also endured two lengthy hunger strikes,”
Commenting on the new mural, DUP councillor Brian Kingston said: “Such lauding of murderers is highly offensive and irresponsible.”