Sharks circle PM in new Belfast mural

A Belfast mural which captured the twists and turns of the Tory leadership fight has been updated for what is likely to be the final time.

The boxing-themed artwork gained international attention when it appeared in the city’s Cathedral Quarter earlier this year.

As Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak toured the UK canvassing Conservative Party members for votes, the mural on Hill Street depicted them in boxing garb.

Conservative leadership bid
The mural on Hill Street in Belfast by Ciaran Gallagher Art (PA)

It was then updated to show a triumphant Ms Truss after she won the leadership race in September.

But as the drama at Downing Street continued, a new mural appeared, with Mr Sunak clambering back into the ring, sporting a Terminator-style eye and the words “I’ll be back”.

Conservative leadership bid
The mural by Ciaran Gallagher shows Liz Truss being declared the winner (PA)

Following the resignation of Ms Truss as Conservative leader it was updated again.

Now the mural, outside the Friend at Hand whiskey shop on Hill Street, shows new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak clinging to a dinghy named RMS Titanic in shark-infested waters, while former PM Boris Johnson and leadership contender Penny Mordaunt prepare to jump overboard.

The fins of five sharks represent some of the many challenges that Mr Sunak faces, including the NHS, Russian president Vladimir Putin, energy costs, strikes and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Rishi Sunak mural
The mural shows Rishi Sunak aboard a dinghy named RMS Titanic (Brian Lawless/PA)

The artworks were commissioned by Belfast publican Willie Jack and painted by local artist Ciaran Gallagher.

The latest mural is set to be the last in the series, as The Friend at Hand plans to expand into the adjoining building in November.

Mr Jack said the mural aimed to provide some light relief in tough times.

“We have a long history of murals in Belfast, and are well known for our satirical take on things.

“Ciaran’s series of murals tapped into the drama and power struggles at the heart of Downing Street in recent months, and provided a little light relief at a time when there has not been much to laugh about,” he said.

“We predicted the Truss win but always said Rishi was down but not out.

“This final scene feels like an apt place to call it a day – capturing the challenges that face the new PM as he tries to hold on to what looks like a sinking ship, but more importantly, the issues that people here need effective leadership on, both at Westminster and at Stormont.

“We are considering putting the series on display as part of an exhibition at some point, though I hear the Sunaks might be looking to make some updates to the decor in Number 10 – who knows where they could end up.”