Painting peace?: murals and the Northern Ireland peace process

Hill, Andrew and White, Andrew (2012). Painting peace?: murals and the Northern Ireland peace process. Irish Political Studies, 27(1) pp. 71–88.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/07907184.2012.636184

Abstract

Murals have figured as a prominent feature of the visual environment of Northern Ireland since the early twentieth century, developing, during the Troubles, into one of the best-known examples of political art in the world. This article examines the position occupied by these murals in the period (since 1994) of the peace process. It focuses on the multi-government-agency Re-imaging Communities programme (launched in 2006) and its attempt to intervene in the visual environment and steer the Northern Ireland muralscape away from expressions of sectarianism towards more ‘positive’ themes. The aims and achievements of this programme (to date) are assessed, along with the issues the programme and related initiatives raise with regard to the governance of the visual environment. The article moves on to examine a further means by which murals have been repositioned in the period since 1994 – the attempt to present them as tourist attractions – and closes by discussing the issues raised for remembering the Troubles by these interventions in and attempts to reconfigure Northern Ireland's murals.

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