Northern Ireland

Tigers Bay community gets its wings

Tiger's Bay Angel sculpture
Image caption Five-year-old Bethany Lendrum from Tigers Bay gets the first look at the new sculpture

During the Troubles it witnessed some of the most fierce fighting and rioting in north Belfast.

Now the community of Tigers Bay is ready to confine its bloody history to the past with the help of a£125,000 re-imaging scheme by Groundwork Northern Ireland.

The latest phase of the project is a bronze statue by artist Ross Wilson, entitled Angel.

The figure was unveiled at a special ceremony on Tuesday and has been heralded as a "significant move forward".

Aidan McLoone from Groundwork NI said the entire Tigers Bay community played a huge role in coming up with a design for the sculpture.

He said: "The residents were keen to have a centre-piece in the Oval Garden, where we carried out landscaping as part of the re-imaging scheme.

"The Angel symbolises keeping a watchful eye on the community and he is a messenger of hope."

The sculpture's jacket is patterned with tiger cubs and symbols of youth, grace, hope and truth.

The back of the angel is adorned with personal objects of identity handed over by people from Tigers Bay as expressions of their hopes.

'Replaced'

It is the latest phase of a two-year re-imagining scheme, which has seen sectarian murals and graffiti replaced with artwork.

Mr McLoone added: "Tigers Bay suffered significantly during the years in terms of the Troubles and it is also an area of social need.

"The people were keen to move away from images associated with the community in the past.

"They wanted to replace sectarian markings with artwork and over the last two years we have been working with the Tigers Bay residents association to do that.

"This is the largest investment programme we have made to a community group in Northern Ireland."

Leeanne Marshall from Tigers Bay Concerned Residents Association said the latest addition to their community was a welcome one.

She added: "We are very pleased with the sculpture and garden which was unveiled today.

"The sculpture is a poignant and significant end to a long process of re-imaging in the Tigers Bay community.

"We hope that the message delivered by the Angel is heard within and across the community and that local people can see that moving forward does not mean painting out the past but remembering it through new ways"