Saturday 1 October 2016

Artist sparks controversy after 'repeal' mural painted over suicide prevention message

Amy Molloy, Daire Courtney

Published 13/09/2016 | 18:09

An artist who painted 'repeal' over a suicide prevention message has sparked controversy amongst locals in Waterford.

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Sam Doyle has received criticism from some people in the Waterford area as he painted the message at the expense of a suicide prevention mural.

The rock, located over Waterford Train Station in the city centre, previously had the words “Pieta 50300 text now” painted on it.

Now, Mr Doyle's mural has been altered after someone, described by the artist as a “lone warrior", changed “Repeal” to “Reveal”. 

“It’s a pity it happened. They could have put more effort into making something better, rather than just turning a ‘p’ into a ‘v’ as a joke,” Mr Doyle told RTE Radio 1’s Liveline today.

“I believe that a lot of people are pro-life in Ireland. Ireland is not a country which grants people bodily integrity. I believe change is coming,” he said when explaining his decision to paint the mural.

A number of people phoned into Liveline complaining about the artist’s actions.

“It’s criminal damage, it’s graffiti, it certainly isn’t art. Anyone beyond 4th class can draw capital letters on a rock,” one caller said.

“It is an atrocity to be honest. I live one mile from it and to me it is one of the most attractive exits from a county that one could have. It is not particularly well done anyway,” another said.

One man on the show explained why he was against the Repeal slogan, stating: "What we are trying to change is that we do not think the 8th amendment should be changed, we think it should be embraced. We don’t want abortion because women suffer from it."

In response to pro-life callers, Mr Doyle said: “If people don’t want to have an abortion, they don’t have to. I don’t think that changing the ‘p’ into the ‘v’ is going to stop people having abortions.”

The rock has previously caused controversy after pro-IRA messages were painted on it.

One caller on Liveline questioned why Waterford County Council had not taken any action, considering messages such as "Romanians Out" have previously been removed.

When contacted by Independent.ie, a spokesperson for the Council said: "The lands are not in the ownership of Waterford City & County Council and due to the location and access issues, the Council are not in a position to remove the slogan, nor have we been in the past.

"There is a stunning mural on the old Ard Ri hotel which is aimed at raising awareness for Pieta house and the prevention of suicide and self harm. The image depicts a man reaching out for help while at the same time being supported by those around him."

There is also a new 'Repeal the 8th' mural at the Bernard Shaw on Richmond Street in South Dublin.

It calls for Ireland to “Stop letting old men decide what women should do with their bodies!”

The mural was painted by Dublin-based artist Shirani Bolle at Saturday’s Paint Jam, a celebration of Dublin street art.

The Bernard Shaw mural.
The Bernard Shaw mural.

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