Questions have arisen as to how the paint job could have been carried out in a UFF stronghold without the cooperation of the area’s strongman, Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair, and how that cooperation was won. Sources in the area insist that no one would dare destroy a UFF mural without the consent of “Mad Dog.” However, other sources claim that the job was carried out by workers from the Belfast City Council on orders from the Department of Social Development. Nigel Dodd of the Democratic Unionist Party heads the department. Seed money from the government had helped fund the rebuilding of the outlet, which had been destroyed in a mysterious fire a few years ago.
Also, Kentucky Fried Chicken’s other 27 Northern Ireland restaurants are being looked into. There already has been a controversy surrounding the relocation of Catholic workers from the Fountain Hill KFC franchise in Antrim after threats from local loyalists. Reports of threats to Catholic workers at a KFC restaurant in East Belfast have also been raised. As well, a glance down the list of KFC outlets in Northern Ireland shows them to be heavily concentrated in predominantly Protestant areas.
The Shankill mural, showing two hooded gunmen, one of whom was placed under the Colonel Saunders logo, was removed after questions were raised about the possible withdrawal of millions of dollars of New York city and state pension funds as a result of potential violations of the MacBride Principles, nine fair employment guidelines that a number of U.S. states and municipalities have signed onto. These disallow pension funds from being invested in companies in Northern Ireland that engage in discriminatory practices. Between them, New York City and state have invested $65 million in Yum Brands, KFC’s parent company.
Of the 28 KFC restaurants in Northern Ireland, none are located in areas that are predominantly nationalist. Those that are found in predominantly nationalist towns, such as Derry, and Newry, Co. Down, are located in commercial zones. Nine of the outlets are in mixed areas or areas hard to designate. One is downtown Belfast, a commercial zone. The remaining 16 are in heavily Protestant areas.
The Sinn Fein councilor for South Antrim, Martin Meehan, hailed the mural’s removal as a “positive move.”
“I hope Yum Brands will follow through to ensure the fullest protection for the Catholic night shift workers at the Fountain Hill KFC outlet at Stiles Way in Antrim Town,” he said.
Meehan also welcomed the scrutiny of KFC by the New York Comptroller’s office.
Calls to the Shankill Road KFC restaurant and Yum Brands for comment were not returned.