The organizers of the Michael Stone art exhibition say they regret the harm done to the family of the late Dermot Hackett by organizing the event for the loyalist killer.
The exhibit took place inside the East Belfast Reach UK community project, which was set up by former members of the paramilitary group Red Hand Commando.
The group says it supports initiatives from all sections of the community and has been asked to consider hosting a free week-long exhibition of artwork from the Stone’s Milestones collection.
Robin Stewart of Project Reach was pictured standing next to Stone at the show’s launch last month. He said the organization had offered space to host the 25 works of art and a free opening night in mid-July.
“The nature of the request was to exhibit some of Michael’s works and at the same time to publicize the Prison Arts Foundation,” he said.
“We discussed the possibility of this exhibition being controversial, but Michael wanted it to be a low-key event.”
Mr Stewart added: “We regret the hurt and pain caused. Michael also recognizes the hurt his past actions have caused and he understands how this can impact the families of the victims.
“He is an artist who is in prison but will soon be released. All prisoners, whether trade unionists or nationalists, have limited options on how they are going to reintegrate into society and art is preparing Michael for this. He shows the other prisoners that there is hope for them when they are released and rehabilitated so that they do not reoffend. “
Since news of Stone’s art exhibit came to light, Mr Stewart said there has been renewed interest in the exhibit.
“We sold a number of paintings at the launch and today received more emails from people locally and across the UK looking to come and view the works with an interest in buying. Some of them they can be people genuinely interested in art or because of who the artist is. “
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