One of Belfast's most iconic murals, painted at the height of the Drumcree and Lower Ormeau parades disputes, is to be rededicated in memory of American political icon Tom Hayden.
Located on the corner of Artana Strett, the famous 'Stand Off/Trade Off' mural was painted in 1998 as residents in the Lower Ormeau campaigned for the rerouting of a contentious Orange Order parade.
The mural was painted by Hollywood actor and Golden Globe winner, Troy Garity, whose parents are the late Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda.
Then a US State Senator in California, sixties civil rights leader Tom Hayden visited the Ormeau area as an international parades observer during the dispute. Tom had won fame in the US for leading the sixties students movement against the Vietnam War and was one of the Chicago 7 campaigners whose trial has inspired a series of movies.
Troy was staying with family in the area and was asked to paint the mural, a recreation of an Ian Knox cartoon from The Irish News, which depicts a menacing Orange Order member. (Click on video above to see footage of a 1995 attack by RUC on Lower Ormeau residents to facilitate an Orange parade through the nationalist area.)
Reflecting on his time in Belfast, Troy told belfastmedia.com: "I was staying with my family on the Lower Ormeau and wanted to contribute to the peaceful protest against the antagonistic Orange march through the community.
"A plan had been set to line the street with black flags, a symbol of shame, and paint several murals that would serve as media backdrops for the parade. I had been hanging black flags from the street lights when someone asked me if I could paint. They handed me a cartoon that had been in the local paper and asked me to put it on the wall. I think people in the community initially thought I was insane but over the week trust and ultimately some strong bonds formed. Actually, I’ve never made so many friends climbing a ladder. The Lower O is and will always be in my heart."
The Lower Ormeau Residents Action Group (LORAG), which was instrumental in supporting the embattled nationalist community during the dispute, plans to rededicate the mural in memory of Tom Hayden, who passed away in 2016.
LORAG Manager, Gerard Rice, said: "Tom was a person who, throughout his lifetime had fought injustices and stood up for people. He had come over as part of the monitoring group to try and quell the worst excesses of the brutality that came with the marches at the time.
"He always maintained contact with us down over the years, so with his passing we though it would be a fitting tribute to rededicate the mural. That part of the Ormeau Road has now become a bit of a tourist trail and people often ask about the mural. We will put up a plaque beside the mural that details how it came to come about and to rededicate it in Tom's memory."
He added: "The Ormeau Road, like Garvaghy Road, has managed to put that past well behind it, but it's nice to keep something like that and it's especially nice to remember the likes of Tom who did so much to create peace."