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Last Updated: Monday, 10 July 2006, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
3.3m going to replacing murals
uff wall mural
The government hopes to replace murals such as this
The government has been giving more details of how 3.3m is to be spent replacing paramilitary murals in NI.

It has said the scheme will be open to all communities.

NIO Minister David Hanson said the Re-Imaging Communities Programme would give people the opportunity to reclaim public spaces for their community.

"We want to improve prospects, build community capacity, improve public service and ultimately free communities from paramilitary influence," he said.

Culture Minister Maria Eagle said the programme would have a positive impact on communities.

"The purpose of the 'Re-Imaging Communities Programme' will be to engage local people and their communities in finding ways of replacing divisive murals and emblems with more positive imagery.

"New murals and public art will transform parks, housing estates and built-up areas across Northern Ireland, celebrating the aspirations of the whole community and helping people feel part of their own local community."

This wall painting used to be a Red Hand Commando mural
This wall painting used to be a Red Hand Commando mural

New murals which have been painted in loyalist areas of Belfast recently include portraits of football legend George Best, the building of the Titanic, decorated soldier Blair Mayne and David Healey scoring for Northern Ireland against England last year.

A UDA mural in Tullycarnet has now been replaced by that of Catholic war hero James Magennis, who received the Victoria Cross.

Frankie Gallagher, from the Ulster Political Research Group, which is linked to the UDA, said replacing murals in Tullycarnet in east Belfast had already been a success.

"We were ahead of the game to say something positive," he said.

"It was a big risk at the time and we were quite frightened and apprehensive at times and wondered how would this be taken.

"But after we did it, people in Tullycarnet, pensioners and right down the age scale were proud of our estate and the message we were sending out."

Footballer George Best features on one of the newer murals
Footballer George Best features on one of the newer murals

Belfast Alliance councillor Tom Ekin welcomed the new funding, adding that the money would be well spent "if it helped people to move on from the past".

"I think murals have reflected a time in our history and they must change as time has moved on," he said.

"More people are starting to say, indeed, the whole city, the whole of Northern Ireland is reflecting this, change is happening."

However, SDLP North Belfast assembly member Alban Maginness said people should not be paid to remove paramilitary murals.

"It is clear that any paramilitary murals designed to intimidate or mark out territory should be removed," Mr Maginness said.

"Indeed their very existence is illegal. That is why today's announcement really beggars belief.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See more on the proposed art project



SEE ALSO
Loyalists are 'part of process'
06 Jul 06 |  Northern Ireland
Boost for loyalist areas unveiled
10 Jan 06 |  Northern Ireland
Old masters change murals
31 May 05 |  Northern Ireland

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