UDA murals have now been removed
AN eight foot steel sculpture representing the past, present and future will officially be unveiled in Lincoln Courts estate in Londonderry this afternoon.
The 44,450 project funded through the Arts Council led Re-imaging Communities Programme, has provided a new shared space for local people following the removal of a paramilitary mural and painted kerb stones.
The regeneration project was led by Lincoln Courts Youth and Community Association, Ulster Political Research Group, and the Conflict Transformation Initiative.
Local residents, including children and young people, worked with artist Kevin Killen to create the new sculpture. Technical and financial assistance was provided by the Greencare Northwest Project supported by Groundwork Northern Ireland, Derry City Council and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
To complement the project a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) and environmental improvement project has also been completed. Funding of 72,816 was provided by DSD through the Areas at Risk Pilot Programme, Derry City Council's Parks Development Programme, Greencare North West Project and the PSNI. The NIHE transferred the lands to Council at nil cost.
The ring shaped sculpture, which uses trees and leaves to represent the continuous circle of life, has been designed to promote positive messages of hope, renewal and transformation.
UPRG Regional Secretary David Malcolm has hailed the removal of the mural as another sign that Loyalism is delivering positive change in grass roots communities. The mural in question was painted over 20 years ago and was dedicated to six members of the Ulster Defence Association who lost their lives. All six had links to the UDA's North Antrim and Londonderry Brigade.
The mural was the focal point for many years for the UPRG organised Remembrance Day Parade in November.
The removal of the mural is part of a community led Arts Council Re-Imaging project undertaken by the UPRG, Conflict Transformation Initiative and Lincoln Courts Youth & Community Association and completes a near two year consultation and designing process.
Commenting on the UPRG's involvement in the project, Regional Secretary, David Malcolm said: "I am proud of everyone involved in this positive project. The removal of this mural has not been as easy to achieve as some may think. Many people in the community see this as removing part of our Loyalist history, but I see this as a sign that Loyalism is delivering positive change in grass roots loyalist communities.
"The new art piece...is a fantastic piece of work and something the whole community had input into, and I am sure that it will be received well by the community and will act as a modern day symbol that shows a new community spirit where all sections of the community can work together for each other.
"This project has also seen all the paint on kerbs and lampposts removed and a new MUGA (Multi Usage Games Area) built outside the community centre to provide the children of the estate a safe place to play. Major modifications to the car park have also been made to make it accessible to all sections of the community. It is testament to the dedication of the former Development Officer of the CTI; Mr Tom Stone who carried on with the project even after CTI Funding was pulled.
"This project has shown that when engaged, Loyalism delivers and I look forward to our involvement in another Re-Imaging Project in the City that has just begun.
"I would also like to reassure Loyalists that we have not forgotten the men who this mural was dedicated to. In the coming weeks, consultations will begin with everyone in the community on how Loyalism should commemorate its fallen colleagues and how we promote the story of grass roots Loyalist men and communities in a positive and non-threatening manner."