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Lasting Legacy of Civil Rights Campaigners Unveiled

Published: Fri, 16 Oct 2015
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John Hume and Ivan Cooper with Vincent Coyle and Jennifer Hawthorne, Housing Executive.
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World renowned civil rights campaigners, John Hume and Ivan Cooper, have been immortalised in one of the iconic Bogside murals, unveiled in the city today.
The mural, which has stood for nearly two decades and tells the story of the Civil Rights campaign, has also been fully restored with funding from the Housing Executive.
Both Ivan Cooper and John Hume, co-founders of the SDLP, were leading figures in that campaign.
It is one of seven murals, painted by the Bogside Artists, in what has become known as the People’s Gallery – an internationally recognised tourist attraction drawing thousands of visitors each year into the city.
Speaking at the launch this afternoon, the Housing Executive’s Head of Income and Communities, Jennifer Hawthorne, said:
“The mural paints a picture of what can be achieved through non-violence and democracy. It is representative of a shared future which contributes to a more peaceful and inclusive society.
“The restoration of the murals by the Housing Executive and, Derry City and Strabane District Council is the first step in creating a more vibrant and safe community that are welcoming to all.”
John Hume, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, said: “The Civil Rights Movement in Derry in 1968 had people from all walks of life and all traditions and was totally anti-sectarian and non violent.
“I am delighted to be here today to see the refreshed mural which the Bogside Artists have completed which honours all those who were active in these marches. I wish to convey my sincere appreciation to them and to all those who worked tirelessly to make this happen. I hope the People’s Gallery goes from strength to strength.”  
Ivan Cooper, who was played by the actor James Nesbitt in a film about the Civil Rights movement, said: “It is a great honour for me to be remembered in this way and I believe the anti-sectarian message which this mural sends out is as relevant today as it was in the 1960s and 70s.
“I have very affectionate memories of the Bogside, I moved here as a 12-year-old boy. When I was older John Hume and I spent many hours in the local fish and chip shop talking into the small hours and putting the world to rights.”
Speaking on behalf of local residents, Vincent Coyle, a Civil Rights campaigner who is also featured on the same mural, said:
“The People’s Gallery is an internationally recognised art and tourist site, which also serves as a deterrent to vandalism and sectarian graffiti. We have good working relations already in all cross community sectors especially schools and colleges who see the importance of the historical visual narrative.
“We would like everyone in the city to embrace the People’s Gallery and we want to get the message across that it is anti-sectarian - everyone will be welcomed when they come here.“
Head of Culture with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Linda Williams, said: “I am delighted that following the approval of funding by Council’s Business and Culture Committee for the refurbishment of the People’s Gallery by the Bogside Artists these iconic works will be preserved for generations to come.
“The series of murals document the city’s history in a moving and compelling way and have become synonymous with both the Bogside and Derry’s urban landscape. They are a major visitor attraction and their restoration is a vital component in the telling of our story of The Troubles and the civil rights movement.”
Housing Executive Area Manager West, Avril McAllister, said:
“We are delighted to be part of the restoration of the People’s Gallery, which is at the heart of the Bogside community. Fostering good relations is an intrinsic part of the Housing Executive’s commitment to local communities and we hope that the mural will be enjoyed by local residents and visitors alike.”
Earlier this year, the Housing Executive began consulting with residents living in the Bogside and the Fountain/Bishop Street areas about creating a more inclusive community with regeneration and community development at its heart.