First Minister unveils Somme mural
Published: Wed, 9 Mar 2016
First Minister Arlene Foster has unveiled a new historical mural in East Belfast depicting the Battle of the Somme.
The Newtownards Road mural initiative was led by community body, the Reach project, and supported by the Housing Executive.
Created by Belfast artist Dee Craig, the artwork replaces a Red Hand Commando mural, which was removed to make way for the new image.
Two other murals in the area – the ‘Titanic’ and ‘No More’ murals - have also recently been restored as part of the ongoing community led regeneration of the area.
Unveiling the new mural, which commemorates the centenary of WWII, First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Northern Ireland Executive is committed to building a shared and better future for everyone in Northern Ireland. I have no doubt that community led initiatives such as this allow all of us to acknowledge our shared history as part of that transformation process.
“It is particularly poignant to showcase the Somme during this decade of centenaries. It is right and proper that we remember and honour the brave young men of Northern Ireland who sacrificed so much to give us our freedom.”
Jim Wilson, from the Reach Project, said:
“We consulted widely with the community about the new mural and the Ballymacarrett Somme Association. Following discussions we decided the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme would be commemorated on this gable wall.
“It's with great pride that the First Minister is here today to dedicate this mural. I would also like to thank the Housing Executive for their support in this initiative and many other projects in this area.
“We’re delighted the ‘Titanic’ and ‘No More’ murals have been refurbished as they are already a big tourist attraction. They have been a positive feature in the area and remind the community of our strong links with the shipyard and that violence belongs in the past.”
Jim Wilson helped to design the Battle of the Somme mural and he also wrote the poem on the ‘No More’ mural with his grandson who is featured in the painting.
Our Head of Communities, Jennifer Hawthorne, welcomed today’s mural unveiling as another positive step forward.
“The Housing Executive works to support local communities remove the outward symbols of sectarianism through the medium of art. The unveiling of this mural is the positive outcome of many years of consultation with the local community.
“We commend the ongoing efforts of people in this community to regenerate the area and embrace peace.”