Northern Ireland

Christoff Gillen: Belfast artist escapes 'Rainbow of love' graffiti fine

Belfast City Hall
Image caption A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said the fine had been waived on the condition that Mr Gillen consults them on future "performance art" projects in its area

Belfast City Council has scrubbed out its decision to impose a £60 fine on a performance artist who repeatedly wrote the word 'love' in chalk on a pavement.

Christoff Gillen was fined last month, after rainbow-coloured graffiti was scrawled at Donegall Place, Belfast.

Mr Gillen's solicitor said he had carried out a piece of performance art as part of a gay rights campaign.

A council spokeswoman said the fine was waived on the condition that Mr Gillen consults them on future art projects.

'A Thousand and One Kisses'

The council also defended the actions of the Belfast litter warden who issued the fine to Mr Gillen on 13 March.

It is not the first time the performance artist has expressed himself through pavement graffiti.

Twelve years ago, he used chalk to write the names of more than 3,672 people who died as a result of the Troubles in Northern Ireland around Belfast City Hall.

This time, according to his legal representatives, Mr Gillen was carrying out a piece of performance art entitled A Thousand and One Kisses.

They said he had attempted to create a "rainbow of love" on the pavement which was aimed at "highlighting inequality of treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights and marriage equality".

The Belfast Telegraph previously reported that Mr Gillen had planned to pay the £60 fine using 6,000 pennies, delivering the coins to the council.

'Delighted'

His solicitor Katie McAlister, of the Belfast law firm Madden Finucane, said: "The decision now made by Belfast City Council is correct and just in the context of our client expressing his views and raising awareness of LGBT rights through the medium of performance art.

"Mr Gillen is understandably delighted with this outcome of this case."

In a statement to the BBC, a spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said: "The fine was waived on the condition that Mr Gillen gives an assurance that the council will be consulted in advance of any future requests for what he describes as "performance art" on council property or anywhere council has enforcement responsibilities.

"The council is satisfied that the officer who issued the fixed penalty notice was acting appropriately at that time."

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