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Dublin: 25°C Thursday 11 August 2022

Officials admit repainting of John Peel mural, amid outrage from music fans

The whitewash of the Belfast street art was carried out as part of a regeneration scheme.

The mural pictured in September last year
The mural pictured in September last year
Image: Geoff Caves

Updated at 21.43

COMMUNITY GROUPS SIGNED-OFF on the removal of street art paying tribute to the late BBC DJ John Peel, Northern Ireland’s Department of Social Development has said.

The whitewash of the mural at the Bridge End Flyover as part of an urban regeneration scheme caused outrage amongst some music fans in the city this morning, with the decision described as ‘appalling’ and ‘a crime’.

The late BBC broadcaster has a long association with the city, and Northern Ireland in general. He was one of the initial champions of Derry band The Undertones – picking their track ‘Teenage Kicks’ as his favourite song of all time.

The single was played at his funeral in 2004, and the flyover mural featured the lyric ‘Teenage dreams so hard to beat’ in large lettering, alongside a spraypainted ‘John Peel 1939 – 2004 RIP’.

Speaking to this morning, a spokesperson for the Department Social Development said it was not responsible for the move, and directed our enquiries to another government department. However, after further calls, the DSD got back later with this update:

Through consultation all aspects of the scheme were  agreed with all statutory and community groups and this included the removal of this and other graffiti. We do not remove graffiti as a standalone issue however we will always remove graffiti, after consultation, as part of any scheme if it falls within a scheme area.

Local community and youth groups are now drawing up plans for an alternative artwork at the flyover, to be completed in tandem with the Department’s £300,000 facelift of the area, the spokesperson said.

The mural pictured last year, and today (Image: Geoff Caves)

The official response hasn’t quelled the row over the mural, however. Sinn Fein Councillor Conor Maskey said there had been ‘zero consultation’ over the move.

Former Sinn Féin Mayor of Belfast Niall Ó’Donnghaile has started a campaign to have the mural repainted by teenagers from the Short Strand and Inner East youth groups. He said he had contacted the DSD with details of his plan, but that itwas only one of several being considered.

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A hugely influential and figure in the music industry during his career, John Peel was known for his wide-ranging musical taste and enthusiasm for breaking new bands.

He was the focus of renewed media attention in the wake of the Jimmy Savile controversy after claims that he had sex with a 15-year-old girl in 1969. Jane Nevin, who made the claim last October, later said that Peel had ‘done nothing wrong’ and was ‘nothing like’ Savile.

Read: Vince Vaughn has made a film about the Northern Ireland murals…

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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