Several UDA murals in east Belfast have been replaced with more positive images of “local heroes”, and will be officially unveiled next Friday.
The re-imaging project has been widely welcomed, particularly as a number of paramilitary murals have appeared on gable walls in some nearby areas.
In recent weeks a George Best artwork was painted over in Sydenham and now depicts a UVF gunman, while a new image of hooded UVF men has appeared in the Woodstock Road area.
Charter NI has been the driving force behind the new ‘Communities Moving Forward’ initiative and, following neighbourhood consultations, the new murals have been created and are ready for unveiling.
Sam White is a member of Charter NI who has been involved in the project.
He said it was a complex process and added: “The concept highlights the positive attitudes that lie within working class communities and further showcases the will for change.”
The initiative – involving murals in Templemore Avenue, Kenbaan Street off the Beersbridge Road and Lendrick Street off the Newtownards Road – was jointly funded by Belfast City Council and the NI Housing Executive (NIHE).
Commenting on the negative publicity surrounding the recent replacement of non-sectarian murals, Mr White told the News Letter: “That is the positive side of re-imaging that we are involved in – this is a bit of good news after the bad.”
Alliance councillor Maire Hendron, chair of Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Partnership, said she was “delighted to see new artwork on the streets of east Belfast” which shows more positive images supported by the vast majority of local people.
“Charter NI has shown great leadership in working with local people to find out how they want their community to be represented. The results of this partnership working are plain for everyone to see,” she said.
“The new images of local heroes who have succeeded in the world of boxing, the positive words of Colonel Tim Collins and moving forward from our dark days to a new and brighter future are all statements we can support.”
Jennifer Hawthorne of the NIHE described the project as “very worthwhile”.
She said: “The process of undertaking a re-imaging project allows communities to learn about their culture and identity and helps build understanding of the shared history of communities in Northern Ireland.”