The leading roles played by John Hume and Ivan Cooper in the struggle for civil rights has been enshrined in one of the Bogside Artists’ freshly restored murals.
The iconic mural, which was first unveiled nearly 20 years, tells the story of the Civil Rights campaign and has been fully restored with funding from the Housing Executive.
Both Ivan Cooper and John Hume, co-founders of the SDLP, were leading figures in the civil rights campaign and are pictured in the foreground.
The Civil Rights mural is one of seven painted by the Bogside Artists in what has become known as the People’s Gallery – an internationally recognised tourist attraction drawing thousands of visitors into the city each year.
Speaking at the launch at the weekend, the Housing Executive’s Head of Income and Communities, Jennifer Hawthorne, said: “The mural paints a picture of what can be achieved through non-violence and democracy. It is representative of a shared future which contributes to a more peaceful and inclusive society.”
Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume meanwhile said that the Civil Rights Movement in Derry in 1968 had people from all walks of life and all traditions and was totally anti-sectarian and non-violent.
Mr Hume said: “I am delighted to be here today to see the refreshed mural which the Bogside Artists have completed which honours all those who were active in these marches. I wish to convey my sincere appreciation to them and to all those who worked tirelessly to make this happen. I hope the People’s Gallery goes from strength to strength.”
Ivan Cooper said: “It is a great honour for me to be remembered in this way and I believe the anti-sectarian message which this mural sends out is as relevant today as it was in the 1960s and 70s.
“I have very affectionate memories of the Bogside, I moved here as a 12-year-old boy. When I was older, John Hume and I spent many hours in the local fish and chip shop talking into the small hours and putting the world to rights.”
Vincent Coyle, a Civil Rights campaigner who is also featured on the same mural, said: “The People’s Gallery is an internationally recognised art and tourist site, which also serves as a deterrent to vandalism and sectarian graffiti.”
Head of Culture with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Linda Williams, said that a recent funding decision by the counci would ensure “these iconic works will be preserved for generations to come”.