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Fifty years since the Battle of the Bogside, some fear the new status of Derrys murals as a tourist attraction will stop the community overcoming the past
One of the first things you see as you enter Bogside is a 20ft mural of a 12-year-old boy, wearing a gas mask and clutching a petrol bomb.
Painted on the side of a social housing property, its a stark reminder of the violence that tore Derry apart during the Troubles. One of a series of 12 murals telling the story of Bloody Sunday, the day in 1972 when the British army opened fire at a protest, shooting and mortally wounding 14 innocent civilians, it depicts the battle of the Bogside, a 1969 riot between mostly Catholic residents and police drawn almost exclusively from Protestant and unionist backgrounds.
This week marks 50 years since the battle, and Tom Kelly, one of the Bogside artists who painted the mural in the early 1990s, says his image shows a community standing up for basic civil and human rights. It is not intended to be partisan, he says. I dont see it as violent or sinister.
When it first went up, however, Kelly says it was heavily criticised in both the Times and the Irish Times for glorifying pre-teen violence. The Bogside murals have remained divisive ever since, not just among Protestants but among local Catholics and republicans who want to shake off the legacy of the past.