Said Tom Kelly, spokesman for the muralists known world wide as The Bogside Artists: "It is a sad reflection on our Sinn Fein run council that we had to fund this restoration by gathering up small donations from the locals here. Sinn Fein, the dominant party in the council, do not see the maintenance of The People's Gallery to be a council matter. If they cannot own it or control it it seems they will not fund it. Over the last seven years we have had very little help indeed and had to close our studio in the Bogside for lack of funding. Should a lamppost be knocked down in the street it is fixed immediately as a matter of great urgency but The People's Gallery is left to rot. Locals and tourists are staggered by the council's attitude. But such is politics in this neck of the woods where the right thing to do simply goes to the wall and the real interests of the people are sacrificed to high power political gamesmanship."
The Bogside Artists fully intend to restore the remaining eleven large-scale murals of The People's Gallery that are known the world over.
They have placed a Paypal donations button on their website. Added Tom: "These murals are the last surviving visual legacy in art form of over three decades of the Troubles. It is in the interests of many to see them disappear irrespective of whether millions of people around the world would surely see this as a crime against humanity. Anybody who loves art, Derry or Ireland should help us to restore them despite the all political gamesmanship on the part of Sinn Fein, Ulster Unionists or especially Westminster. The real irony in all of this is that Derry has been given the accolade of UK City of Culture 2013. What do they know of culture or understand by it when they treat the only real art work in the city with such antipathy and wholesale neglect? Philistinism is too nice a word to describe it."
You can donate via http://www.bogsideartists.com
The Bogside Artists can also be found on Facbook where your comments are welcomed.
Photo1: The Peace Mural restored.
Photo 2: Linda Nash whose brother was shot dead on Bloody Sunday as was Helen Deery's kid brother Manus. Next to them is Paulin Mellon human rights activists as are Linda and Helen. They have formed a committee to promote the restoration of The People's Gallery the most populat and most important tourist destination in the North of Ireland, if not the entire country. An official commemorative unveiling of The Peace Mural will take place on Saturday 11th August 20012 at IPM.
Photo 3. Pictured with the artists several female student helpers, from Boston and Indiana who helped the artists fix up the mural.