Call for removal of UVF mural at football grounds

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Disturbing new hoarding featuring masked UVF gunmen has appeared next to the home ground of Crusaders Football Club.

The mural, bearing the logos of the UVF and the paramilitary group’s `youth wing’, the YCV, appeared at the Irish League ground last month.

It covered over a long-standing mural dedicated to the north Belfast football club. The `Welcome to Seaview’ mural has now been painted over and replaced with hoarding bearing the name of `3rd Battalion (North Belfast) UVF’.

The club opted not to comment, stating that the wall is not in its ownership.

But SDLP councillor Carl Whyte has described the move as both sinister and intimidating.

He said the use of the UVF’s so-called youth wing on the hoarding was part of an effort to deliberately target young people and young football fans.

“Whoever put that up is trying to promote an illegal paramilitary organisation and recruit young people to it,” he said.

“The football club has been doing important work building community resilience and capacity and should be commended for it.

“The banner should be removed immediately but there are a number of serious questions that now need to be answered, not least of all who erected the banner and how was it paid for.

“I have asked PSNI to investigate the matter - erecting insignia like this is an offence. We all have a duty to bring communities in north Belfast together, this only drives us further apart.”

Mr Whyte, whose grandmother Peggy was murdered by the UVF in 1984, said while some are afraid to speak out in public over the mural, he said he refused to be intimidated by the paramilitary group.

“They murdered my grandmother and I’m not going to stay silent about them putting up banners at football pitches, he said.

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