This article focuses on the long history of mural painting in Northern Ireland and specifically on the changing relationship between mural painting and the state in various eras. Originally unionist murals were state-friendly, painted as part of the annual celebration of King William’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Later, murals were seen as beyond the pale, each for their own reasons; republican murals supported the armed struggle of the IRA against the state, while loyalist murals glorified the campaign of the loyalist paramilitary groups to terrorise the nationalist population. As the peace process took hold in Northern Ireland, republicans began to transform their own images; loyalists found this task more problematic, leading the state to intervene to fund the re-imaging of murals, thereby seeking to remove all offensive and military iconography. The article ends by critically assessing the outcome of the state’s Re-imaging Communities Programme.
- Northern Ireland