COMPLAINTS from the public in Limerick about pro-Loyalist graffiti, featuring the controversial ‘Red Hand of Ulster’ symbol, led City Hall to remove the offending painting at the weekend.
A spokesperson for Limerick City Council said graffiti is becoming an increasing problem in the city, and it costs €25,000 per annum to have it removed.
The spokesperson said four graffiti artists have been apprehended by gardai in the past three weeks alone, and are now engaging in the restorative justice programme, under which they have been removing their own ‘art’.
“It’s a very significant problem and we’re looking at having a designated street art space in the city. But this is at a very early stage and is subject to more discussions.
“It is currently an offence under the criminal damage act and the Litter Pollution Act, with fines issued quite regularly. But unfortunately many business owners are often left to clean it up themselves. Having a designated graffiti area might tie in with the city being a city of culture in 2014,” said the spokesperson.
Local man Joe Lynch, of Republican Sinn Fein, said he observed the graffiti featuring the Red Hand of Ulster on the outside wall of the skate-board park on the Dock Road last week, but said it was painted over by council workers within 24 hours. The council said it was removed as standard, similar to other graffiti acts, which carry a €150 fine if the offender is caught. The council said it cost several hundred euro to remove this slogan.
Mr Lynch, from Ballinacurra Weston, said it “was done with a brush and by someone with an artist’s hand”.
He said with the infamous July 12 Orange Order parades in the North approaching he feared this could “cause tensions locally”, even though he was unaware if there are any loyalist groups in Limerick.
“A far more sinister motive could have been to threaten the nationalist population of Limerick. Whatever the reason, the cost for the removal of the defacing was borne by the local authority,” he said, calling on the City Council to disclose the cost of removing the graffiti. The council said it was in the region of €200.
While graffiti is permitted inside the skateboard park, it is not allowed on the outside while, and while another location further along the Dock Road has become a haven for graffifi artists, this is also not a designated graffiti zone.