Tourists want to see ‘blood and guts murals’

June 2012: Sandy Row Ulster Freedom Fighters mural painted over.  The masked gun man mural with the words 'You are now entering loyalist Sandy Row' is to be replaced by a painting of King William.
June 2012: Sandy Row Ulster Freedom Fighters mural painted over. The masked gun man mural with the words 'You are now entering loyalist Sandy Row' is to be replaced by a painting of King William.

A Belfast tour guide has said some tourists are disappointed to see that many old-style images have been replaced by less sinister ones.

Mark Thomas was speaking after the News Letter revealed the long roster of murals – a huge number of them paramilitary in nature – which have been recorded across Housing Executive properties across the country.

To find the number of recorded examples in your area, click here.

In the last few years, a giant UDA/UFF mural of a masked gunman at the entrance to Sandy Row – close to the city centre – has been replaced, while among the recent murals in east Belfast is one on the Newtownards Road marking the sinking of Titanic.

Mr Thomas, 46 and from the Shankill, runs NI Black Taxi Tours in the Province’s capital, was asked if many tourists remark on the large numbers of paramilitary murals.

He said: “They expect it. That’s the reason they’re taking the tour. They want to see the murals, really.

“They don’t want to see pictures of flowers, you know? They want to see the blood and guts really, if you ask me...

“Some of them can be disappointed when they come to see ones which aren’t there any more.”

Most tourists he takes around are from the Republic of Ireland, he said.

Asked if visitors would still come in the same numbers if all paramilitary murals were to be removed at a stroke, he said: “People would still come. People probably would still come to Belfast [for the] Titanic and everything else...

“They’ll still come – just even to see the peace walls.”