An elderly man believed to be taking photographs of a mural hailing Gerry Adams as a peacemaker has been assaulted.
The artwork in the staunchly republican Falls Road area of West Belfast depicted the Sinn Fein president beside the words “peacemaker, leader, visionary” and was a response to his arrest.
The photographer suffered cuts and bruises during Sunday’s attack, a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) spokesman said.
He added: “Shortly after 6.30pm it was reported that a 74-year-old man was taking photographs of murals close to the junction of Albert Street when he was approached by three unknown males. The males assaulted the man and stole his Canon camera.”
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness launched the new mural at the weekend, which sits alongside one commemorating 1981 Maze prison IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. He blamed Mr Adams’ arrest on an “embittered rump” left over from before the reform of policing whom he claimed wanted to destroy the peace process.
Hundreds of political paintings were created around Northern Ireland in republican and loyalist areas during the 30-year conflict.
The most famous include a depiction of 1981 hunger striker Bobby Sands off the Falls Road and Free Derry Corner in Londonderry - or Derry as it is known by nationalists - which commemorates the Catholic civil rights movement at the start of the conflict in 1969.
In loyalist areas murals have been daubed with King Billy on a white horse commemorating the Battle of the Boyne, which was fought in Ireland between William of Orange and James II in July 1690. It was a decisive victory by King William and has been celebrated by Protestants for many years.
In both communities images of gunmen have gradually been replaced by more innocuous portrayals like Manchester United’s east Belfast forward George Best.
But in some areas where support for anti-peace process dissident republicans is present slogans commemorating the organisations have been painted in recent years.