Lyra McKee’s murder must herald a transformation from our society’s complicity to gangs

There were two protest actions that came amongst the outpouring of grief from the murder of Lyra McKee.  Both challenged the complicity our society gives criminal gangs operating in Northern Ireland; those which shelter behind historic letters and seep through violent murals. Violent murals act to normalise their criminality, and their suffocation of working class areas across Northern Ireland. As do their gang flags. Put simply, paramilitary murals are the subliminal advertising of criminal organisations in Northern Ireland. To be …

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The Mural Hunter and The Writing on the Wall…

By my estimates, there are around 500 to 600 murals of various shapes and sizes in Northern Ireland. Between 2008 and 2015, I visited and photographed around 400 of them, with just short of 200 of these photographs featuring in my book The Writing on the Wall: A Visual History of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, published in October 2015 by Bluecoat Press. I do not claim to have laid eyes on all the murals in Ireland, but Bill Rolston, Emeritus Professor at the …

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UVF mural replaces ‘aspirational’ George Best mural in east Belfast…

So, now you see it. Now you don’t. Here’s the George Best mural in Inverwood Court in Sydenham, as it was. Paid for under Peace III funding. Now it seems, things are going back to business as usual, as the PUP gear up for future elections, back come the UVF murals. It’s not the first time the reimagining project has reverted to paramilitary imagery either. Though the removal of what was intended to be an aspirational image has a certain …

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Belfast Black Taxi Tour – political insight or Troubles tourism?

A black taxi tour of Belfast? Chris Jenkins raised questions about the morality of troubles tourism in a recent Guardian Unlimited article. Matthew Symington followed up with an extended interview on Eamonnmallie.com in which Chris again challenged the trend of “money being made from human tragedy” and the DUP’s switch from opposing a “shrine” at Long Kesh to supporting a “Mecca for tourists” at the Maze site. There are huge areas of Belfast that I’ve never visited. Election observing has …

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“We now realise that wasn’t a brilliant idea…”

Newshound transcribes a Sunday World report on the recent removal of a ‘women in struggle’ wall mural at Rockmount Street, Belfast, and its controversial replacement – an advert for Northern Property, a Falls Road-based estate agency.  From the report Tony Donnelly, director of Northern Property, said his office had been inundated with calls about the mural’s removal. He said it had been taken down by Sinn Féin and his company had then erected its ad separately. “We now realise that wasn’t a brilliant idea …

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Oxford academic decries loss of terrorist murals

There have over the last number of years been serious attempts as part of the Re-Imaging Communities Project to remove the sectarian murals in Belfast and replace them with more positive images highlighting the areas’ cultural and history. The Titanic murals also on the Lower Newtownards Road would be an example: unfortunately since the assembly election two new murals depicting loyalist terrorists have been created. Overall, however, according to the Belfast Telegraph there are fewer sectarian murals now than there …

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