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Meehan mural attacked

A CONTROVERSIAL mural depicting former Ardoyne IRA leader Martin Meehan with a gun has been vandalised in an overnight paint bomb attack.

The image situated close to Ardoyne Avenue in north Belfast shows a picture of Meehan, who later went on to serve as a Sinn Fein councillor, wearing an army uniform and pointing a rifle.

The image is based on a picture taken in the early 1970s.

It was widely criticised by unionist politicians among them the DUP MP for the area Nigel Dodds who described it was "an insult" saying it glorified terrorism.

SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said he was "saddened" by the paramilitary mural.

The image on a large canvas was unveiled on Sunday on the anniversary of the former IRA man's death. Meehan died in 2007 from a heart condition.

Security cameras are believed to have captured four men who entered Ardoyne Avenue in a car at 6.25am on Wednesday morning before throwing a bucket of paint over the mural and running off.

In recent weeks there has been anger over the appearance of UVF murals on walls in east Belfast previously adorned with community artwork.

Martin Og Meehan said he believed loyalists were responsible for vandalising the mural of his father.

"What was a family act of remembrance has been turned into a political football by unionists who are using it to distract from their own internal difficulties", he said.

"The vandalism of the mural was I believe loyalist reaction to that hysteria.

"We have had great support from the people of this area who held my father in high esteem and intend to clean the mural up and so it will stay where it is," he added.

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