Last night was a strange night for the city of Belfast. For a city with such a turbulent past, these kinds of night are not as rare as they should be. Symbols, flags, graffiti have been used to divide communities and split friends and families across political and religious divides. At times it looked like music was the only salvation the city had.

Earlier yesterday evening before checking out the Bhi Bhiman show I was enjoying a burrito in my favourite fast food place and tweeted this:

It seemed like a real vibe of positivity was happening throughout the city. The Good Vibrations Movie was showing Belfast at its worst and most hopeful. Teenage Kicks by The Undertones, recorded in 1978, was the perfect pop song. It was hope, youth, love and the teenage dream that everything would all be all right. Over the years politicians, paramilitaries, councils, world leaders, community representatives and others have tried to stomp out those teenage dreams but the punk ethos has always still remained bubbling under the surface and John Peel was the media voice of that generation.

On the night that John Peel died, the fitting memorial mural on a Belfast flyover appeared. A simple rest in peace message to a great DJ and an advocate for music, arts, peace and hope, it quoted the first line of that Undertones hit single and was something of a beacon of hope for those of us who consider most of the other graffiti in the city to be threatening, oppressive and divisive.


© Conor MacAuley

Last night the mural was destroyed, not by other taggers, not by paramilitaries but by some officially sanctioned body who crudely obliterated it under a thin layer of cheap whitewash. Belfast City Council have denied responsibility but no one has at yet admitted their part in removing a part of what I consider to be my culture in this city. While this one piece of art has been removed there remain hundreds of murals depicting death, murder, and glorifying the nation’s bloody past.

We’re angry. We’re not sure what to do. A repainted mural won’t be the same. We need to know who did it. We need to know why.

Get on Twitter and check out the #TeenageDreams tag. Be punk. Be anarchic. Don’t let your Teenage Dreams be beat.