Fresh UVF gunmen mural ‘unwelcome’

A new UVF mural at Ardenvohr Street in Belfast
A new UVF mural at Ardenvohr Street in Belfast

There is no community support for a new paramilitary mural being painted in east Belfast, a local councillor has claimed.

Only weeks after a tribute to football legend George Best was replaced with the image of a UVF gunman in Sydenham, work has begun on another UVF mural in the Willowfield area.

The new painting – depicting two hooded UVF gunmen and two Long Kesh prison-style Nissen huts – has appeared at the junction of Carlingford Street and Ardenvohr Street a short distance from St Anthony’s Catholic Church at Willowfield Crescent.

Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers said the new imagery was unwelcome.

“It is time that these paramilitary murals, be they loyalist or republican, were brought to an end. People are still seething from the Inverary mural which painted over one of the world’s top footballers George Best,” he said.

Mr Rodgers said most people were happy with sporting or genuinely historical images, but added: “Whenever it comes to paramilitaries, the vast majority of people in the Protestant/unionist community have no time for them.

“Whenever they [UVF-aligned PUP] have put candidates forward for election they have got their answer, unlike what happens to the Roman Catholic/nationalist side where people vote in large numbers for Sinn Fein rather than the SDLP.”

Alliance councillor Maire Hendron described the new mural as “a setback”.

She said: “It is simply being used to intimidate, mark territory and create fear among local people. We should not accept the appearance of this sickening image of masked gunmen. As we attempt to move our society forward towards a shared future, we should not tolerate this divisive behaviour. I condemn this and all other paramilitary images and symbols.”

She added: “I am particularly disappointed given the willingness of many communities to accept the re-imaging process to make murals more inclusive.”