by Marianne Flood

Derry's council has approved a £40,000 flood-lighting scheme for the iconic murals which make up the ‘People’s Gallery’ in the Bogside.

The project will be jointly funded by Derry City and Strabane District Council and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE).

The 12 murals, which were created by the Bogside Artists, are a major visitor attraction in the city and mark historic events in the Troubles such as Bloody Sunday and Operation Motorman.

In 2013 Derry City Council completed a lighting scheme for the city funded by Tourism NI which lit Derry’s Walls, St Columb’s Cathedral and The Playhouse.

A meeting of the council’s Business and Culture Committee on Tuesday was told the People’s Gallery was part of the original business case for the scheme, but had to be removed due to budget constraints.

“The scheme has a major tourist benefit as it increases the visibility and accessibility of the ‘Peoples Gallery,” a council officer said.

“In addition, the Housing Executive believes there is a community benefit as the areas will be well lit, increasing public safety.”

Committee members were asked to approve the budget of £20,000 for the scheme in principle and to authorise officers to proceed to tender.

Proposing the motion, the independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly said he ‘fully supported it’.

The motion was seconded by SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack.

“It will create a back drop for some of the imagery most associated with the city,” she said.

Chair of the Business and Culture Committee, Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue welcomed the news.

“It will enhance the murals at the Bogside and enhance safety too for people living in the Bogside and visiting the murals,” she said.

The 12 murals were fully restored last year following joint funding from the council and the Housing Executive.

An initial funding approach was made to the Department of Social Development (now Department for Communities) in 2015, but they believed the scheme did not fit within department expenditure proposals.

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