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Last Updated: Friday, 7 March 2008, 12:20 GMT
UDA says 'OK' to King William
By Paddy O'Flaherty
BBC News

The UDA mural is in the loyalist Village area

A notorious wall mural in Belfast - showing a loyalist paramilitary - is to be replaced by a portrait of King William of Orange.

The mural is nicknamed "The Grim Reaper".

It was painted 10 years ago on a gable wall in Tavanagh Street in the mainly Protestant Village area of the city.

Its £18,000 replacement is part of a £3m community "reimaging" scheme.

Negotiations on the repainting began five years ago with the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

Paula Bradshaw, director of the Greater Village Regeneration Trust, said: "We kept being told 'No' but over the past twelve months confidence and trust has been built up.

"When we got that money from the Arts Council we were afforded the opportunity to go to them and they said 'yes', thankfully."

She said the UDA had decided that the mural should be replaced by the King William portrait.

"But it was a process we had to take as a community to move forward," she added.

(L-R) Paula Bradshaw, director of the Greater Village Regeneration Trust and Roisin McDonough, chief executive of the Arts Council of NI
The new mural has been funded by the Arts Council

The Tavanagh Street scheme is one of 18 new public art projects.

The programme is funded by the Department of Social Development and arranged by the Arts Council.

The Council's Chief Executive, Roisín McDonough, said the Tavanagh Street mural was "divisive and offensive."

She said its replacement was a huge first step in a very positive transformation process.

"The fact that it's being replaced by King William is not an act of triumphalism," she said.

"King William is not offensive to people in this area. It's part of their legitimate Orange cultural heritage.

"The most significant aspect of this is that we are taking down one of the most horrific murals in Northern Ireland."

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