A PUP councillor has branded the appearance of a UVF wall painting in east Belfast “a disgrace”.
Dr John Kyle was commenting after the paramilitary mural replaced an iconic image of George Best in the Sydenham estate.
Cllr Kyle – who made a speech at the unveiling of the tribute to the football legend in 2010 – said he was not aware of any community consultation having taken place prior to the change.
“We should be celebrating some of the great people who have come from east Belfast and the progress that we have made here in recent years,” he said.
In relation to European funding having been used to create the original George Best artwork – in a scheme managed by Belfast City Council – Cllr Kyle said: “I think the group behind it need to explain themselves to the city council.”
Alliance councillor Andrew Webb described the removal of the Best mural as regressive.
“The appearance of this paramilitary image is a backwards step, particularly after so much hard work went into the re-imaging three years ago. I am appalled that a celebration of the life of George Best has been replaced by a sickening image of a paramilitary gunman,” he said.
“It is unacceptable that this UVF mural is being used to intimidate and act as a territorial marker.”
Cllr Webb said the George Best mural was always intended as a permanent change for the better, and added: “This threatening and divisive behaviour is not something that can be tolerated in a society that is seeking to move forward and become more inclusive to all.”