Sandy Row loyalist mural being replaced with William of Orange painting

Mural being painted over The huge Ulster Freedom Fighters mural at Sandy Row in south Belfast is being painted over
The mural is being replaced by a gable-wall sized portrait of William of Orange It will be replaced by a gable-wall sized portrait of William of Orange
Mural being painted over The move is part of a wider project to give loyalist and republican communities in Belfast a new image
Mural being painted over It is being painted out by contractors from the Housing executive following consultation with the local community
White-painted gable wall The re-painting has come about after businessmen told paramilitaries the mural was bad for investment
Proposed mural of William of Orange The replacement mural will be displayed on a wooden hoarding

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Work is under way to paint over one of the most famous paramilitary murals in Northern Ireland.

The huge Ulster Freedom Fighters mural at Sandy Row in south Belfast is being replaced by a gable-wall sized portrait of William of Orange.

The move is part of a wider project to give loyalist and republican communities in Belfast a new image.

It is being painted out by contractors from the Housing Executive following consultation with the local community.

The re-painting has come about after businessmen told paramilitaries the mural - which is one of the most photographed of the Troubles - was bad for investment.

'Frightening away'

Its removal is the result of talks spanning a year.

Community representative Garnett Busby said the paramilitary mural was "iconic" but that the Sandy Row community had recognised the need to move on.

"We were led to believe that this particular mural was detrimental to regeneration," he said.

"We went to the community and asked them what their views would be on replacing it with a more culturally, historically, significant mural which would portray their culture in a more positive and non-threatening manner."

He said the new portrait would be a "significant artpiece".

Artist Ross Wilson said the new mural would feature William III, as he had passed through the area on his way to the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

"What's replacing the paramilitary mural is a portrait of William III - not on a horse - but an actual portrait of him as a person," he said.

"And a quotation by William III, in Dutch, with an English translation. This is something he said to his troops on the morning of the Battle of the Boyne."

He said it was the end of an era but the "beginning of the future".

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

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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