16 May 2006

Best mural 'marks new beginning'


The mural replaces a painting of loyalist paramilitary Billy Wright

George Best may have been nicknamed the Belfast Boy, but a new project is a timely reminder of his legendary status across Northern Ireland.

His family have unveiled a mural in Portadown which celebrates his footballing genius.

The County Armagh town has been the scene of much sectarian strife, but the painting is being seen as a new beginning.

The mural, which depicts him both in his Manchester United and Northern Ireland colours, is painted over one of Billy Wright - the leader of the illegal loyalist paramilitary group, the LVF.

George's father Dickie Best cut the ribbon to officially unveil the mural on Monday.

The Best family hope it will help promote the George Best Foundation, set up after his death last November.

His sister Barbara McNarry said the charity had two main aims.

George Best's father Dickie attended the ceremony

"Its aims are to research liver disease - particularly the effects of alcohol on the liver, which is an area which needs a lot of research," she said.

"Secondly, (we want) to promote youth football, obviously starting in Northern Ireland, but hopefully working our way across the world."

Cyril Moorhead, of Portadown Local Action For Community Engagement, said they wanted to show how "paramilitarism is a thing of the past".

"The communities are moving on and today's ceremony is an aspect of that, whereby Portadown can be a beacon of good example to Northern Ireland," he said.

George Best died last November after suffering multiple organ failure. He was 59 years old.

Next Monday, Belfast City Airport is set to be renamed in his honour.

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