Parties clash over murals funding

Bogside Artists Tom Kelly, left, and Kevin Hasson. (2901PG17)
Bogside Artists Tom Kelly, left, and Kevin Hasson. (2901PG17)

Parties clashed on Derry City Council over funding to maintain the murals of the Bogside Artists.

The Bogside Artists had asked Derry City Council for £250,000 to restore the ten murals they painted in the Bogside area but Derry City Council said it did not have the finds to meet the request.

Instead Council offered a package of £25,000 with an additional £24,000 from the Housing Executive for the project.

At the Council’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, SDLP Councillor Shaun Gallagher said the Bogside Artists’ request was “perfectly reasonable.”

“When I saw what they put to us I thought it was reasonable. The SDLP 110 per cent supports the maintenance and keeping up of these murals for the future. They are worth every cent that is being asked for,” he said.

Sinn Féin Colr. Eric McGinley proposed that Council ask the artists to complete the upgrade work for the funding package on offer.

He rejected the request from the Bogside Artists. “If we extrapolate the figures it amounts to £60,000 each for the Bogside Artists for the murals. That is a huge sum of money. It could create a dangerous precedent for the Council. I have grave concerns that we could be entering into dangerous waters,” he said.

DUP Alderman Joe Miller said he could not support the artists’ request for funding. “This is not against the Bogside Artists or what they do but we cannot give a blank cheque,” he said.

SDLP group leader Colr. Gerry Diver asked for a short recess to try to come to agreement but no agreement was reached.

When Colr. McGinley’s proposal was put to a vote it was supported by Sinn Féin and the councillors from the unionist bloc and opposed by the SDLP.

The proposal was passed by 16 votes to 13.