Mayo businessman Paul Ginty's online petition "The removal of Joe Biden mural in Ballina" has drawn more than 2,000 signatures in support since being launched two months ago.

"Having a large mural of US president Joe Biden in Ballina reflects very badly on the people of Ballina, Mayo and Ireland who hold very different views to Joe regarding the ongoing genocide in Gaza," Ginty wrote on his Uplift petition, addressed to Mayo County Council.

The mural of President Biden in Ballina, created by Padraig “'Smiler” Mitchell and Leslie Lackey, was unveiled in September 2020, not long before that year's US Presidential election.

However, Ginty is now calling for the mural to be removed, claiming that Biden "discredits" Ireland's stance on Palestine

Ginty told RTÉ's Morning Ireland on Thursday, June 20: "I think we as Ballina, Mayo, and Irish people are known around the world for our position on Palestine, I think Joe Biden discredits this position."

Biden, who regularly touts his Irish roots, delivered an address in Ballina last year during his much-hyped trip to Ireland. Some 20-30,000 people traveled to Ballina for the event.

I’m shipping up to Ballina.

— President Biden (@POTUS) April 15, 2023

However, public opinion towards the Irish American US President has now swayed in his ancestral home. (Earlier this year, Irish politicians faced calls to boycott their annual St. Patrick's Day visits to the White House due to Biden's response to the war in Gaza.)

Ginty told Morning Ireland the Biden mural has been defaced several times - including last November when it was graffitied with red paint - "so I feel that that mural is bringing unwarranted and unwanted attention to Ballina in a negative way."

Ginty said on Thursday that there is support locally to remove the mural, noting: "Ballina would have a population of approximately 10,000 people and we have over 1,200 signatures."

As of Friday, the number of signatures had surpassed 2,000.

When asked what he would like to see replace the mural, Ginty said: "We don't need to put anything.

"Leave a blank wall, I'd rather have a blank wall than have a big picture of Joe Biden up there, especially with his connections to Israel, supplying arms."

Local Fine Gael councillor Jarlath Munnelly told Morning Ireland that he is aware of the petition to remove the mural but said it was erected by a group of volunteers and was not a political statement made by a local authority. 

"Ballina has very deep and real connections with Joe Biden, with his ancestry coming from just up the street in Garden Street, and the mural was painted at the time, I suppose, to recognize and highlight the connection he has with Ballina," Munnelly said.

Munnelly said he doesn't think the mural was erected as a "political statement" or an "endorsement" of Biden.

He added: "I think it was an initiative that was made by a community group locally and as far as I'm concerned, as a local public representative, I wouldn't be telling them to take it down."

When asked if the "sense of pride" over the connection with President Biden waned because of the war in Gaza, Munnelly said: "There's a very strong opinion locally around the war in Gaza" and that that is "something that I would completely respect."

He continued: "In my opinion, the mural of Joe Biden, he's a current President of the US, but I suppose more importantly, he is somebody who represents the Irish diaspora, the Irish immigrant communities in the US.

"It's more than just one issue."

When asked if he would listen to the voices of people who have signed Ginty's petition, Munnelly said: "It's not my role to be telling people that the mural should be taken down, and I think that's the position I would take on it.

"It was a group of people in the community who wanted to enhance the place that put the mural up in the first place.

"I know that it's been defaced and indeed those people have gone back and touched it up.

"I would respect their views on it if they thought it was a good move in the first place, and there was a huge support behind them for the mural being pu there in the first place, and I think that should be respected."