Long hopes mural funding can build bridges

Alliance Party Vice Chair, Cllr Michael Long, has commended a government scheme which will see £3.3 million being allocated to help remove paramilitary murals, but has also asked that they provide more funding to eradicate the root causes of sectarianism in the first place.

The Castlereagh Councillor stated: “I am glad that the government has earmarked this funding to help remove paramilitary murals. We have to rid Northern Ireland of the shackles of the past. These images only serve to intimidate the community and send out the message that Northern Ireland is a sectarian society.

“We are trying to persuade businesses to come to Northern Ireland, but I am sure many of those visiting on trade delegations from around the world are put off investing here because they feel that it is unsafe after seeing these murals. Its great that this issue won’t be a stumbling block in future.”

“The fact that £3.3 million is to be provided to remove the scars of sectarianism on our society, illustrates the need for government to implement plans for a shared future in Northern Ireland, to prevent sectarianism in the first instance.

“The cost of segregation is phenomenal, and this £3.3 million is the tip of the iceberg. It is a pity that this money needs to be provided for the removal of paramilitary murals in the first place. If such murals had never existed, this money could have been better spent on improving key public services like health and education in Northern Ireland.

“Given that these paramilitary organisations are obviously well funded, it is a pity, that they cannot pay for such a scheme from their own ample coffers.

“It is important that the wider community is genuinely consulted on the content of these new murals. The Minister has promised community consultation on this issue and I call on him to ensure that this promise is fully carried through.

“It is good news that paramilitary murals are being removed and I believe that these changes will signify another step taken along the road to creating a peaceful and stable society in Northern Ireland.”


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