Northern Ireland

Sandy Row loyalist mural to be replaced with William of Orange painting

UFF mural
Image caption Local businesses raised concerns about the UFF mural

A huge Ulster Freedom Fighters mural is to be painted over in south Belfast after businessmen told paramilitaries it was bad for investment.

The gable wall-sized mural on Sandy Row is one of the most photographed of the Troubles. Its removal next month is the result of talks spanning a year.

UDA leader Jackie McDonald said: "This shows they are prepared to move into a new era.

"I salute the people of Sandy Row for accepting we need to change the image."

'Negative image'

Image caption The gunman mural will be painted over with an image of William of Orange

The UFF murdered more than 250 people during the Troubles - most of them Catholics - and was stood down five years ago.

Businessmen told the community the mural was "frightening away" companies from nearby office complexes.

"They were saying it was a negative image and they were reluctant to invest while it was there," said Garnet Busby of Belfast South Community Resources.

Artist Ross Wilson is putting the finishing touches to a giant painting of William of Orange, which will be placed over the old mural.

"It has been a process of consultation from schoolchildren to ex-paramilitaries" he said.

"If that had not happened this would not have worked."

Scores of paramilitary murals have been replaced in both communities.

More than 30 have gone in Sandy Row, but this is the most significant sign of change in its post-Troubles landscape.

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