East Belfast Teenage Kicks mural back ... without John Peel tribute

The new Teenage Kicks mural at the Bridge End flyover
The new Teenage Kicks mural at the Bridge End flyover

The iconic ‘Teenage Kicks’ mural which was controversially removed from an east Belfast flyover in 2013 has returned.

The mural of lyrics from a song by Londonderry band The Undertones was initially removed from the Bridge End flyover by the Department of Social Development during a regeneration project.

The lyrics “Teenage dreams, so hard to beat” were from the band’s debut single Teenage Kicks and became a landmark on a main arterial route into east Belfast.

Teenage Kicks rose to prominence in 1978 when BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel played the song twice in a row on his show.

He died in 2004 and the mural appeared on the flyover the day after his death. Beside the lyric was “John Peel 1939-2004 RIP”.

But the revamped version has returned without a mention of the DJ after allegations were made in 2012 that he had sex with an underage girl in 1969.

The original mural was put up in tribute to late DJ John Peel

The original mural was put up in tribute to late DJ John Peel

East Belfast Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle said the mural appeared “ahead of time” on Saturday.

When asked about the John Peel reference, Mr Lyttle said: “I am fairly sure this project’s remit was to restore the lyric.

“That was the focus of the project on this occasion.”

He said there had been “a project behind” restoring the mural which has “taken us quite some time and effort”.

“But the Teenage Kicks mural has been restored as part of a cross-community and music skills project,” he added.

“I understand the unplanned nature of the last one was important to many people, but as a result of the DSD environmental improvement scheme at Bridge End to have it restored it was important to engage with DSD to ensure it was a sustainable project.”

He said that he along with community artists, youth workers and young people put together the project to see the mural restored and “also see another mural on the other side of the Bridge End flyover”.

“I think the spontaneity will always be part of it because of the original intention,” he added. “It was clear that was the only mural wanted for that wall. We are hopeful some of our local world class music stars will support the relaunch of the mural as well.”

Plans for the returned mural were mooted in November 2013 by then DSD Minister Nelson McCausland, when in his blog he said that in the next mural “there will be no mention of John Peel”.

On Sunday Mr McCausland said “in light of what has emerged about John Peel it is appropriate that any replacement does not include a reference to him”.

“I welcome that,” he added.