Councillors condemn bid to name children's play park after Shankill Butcher Lenny Murphy
Residents living in Newtownabbey have suggested renaming a children's play park after one of Northern Ireland's most notorious murderers –'Shankill Butcher' Lenny Murphy.
The proposal for the 'Lenny Murphy play park' along with the 'UVF Recreational Centre' were two controversial suggestions given by the public during a survey over the future name of the Ballyearl Drive park area.
Councillors had met to discuss the most popular suggestion– the Prince William Park.
It emerged during the committee meeting at Newtownabbey Council on Monday night that support had been voiced for it to be called after the member of the Shankill Butcher gang.
The notorious loyalist gang were responsible for the deaths of at least 23 people between 1975 and 1982.
Councillors branded the suggestions as a "sad disappointment".
However, a representative from the New Mossley Community Group–which carried out the survey– claimed it was "never seriously suggested".
Chairman of New Mossley Community Group Jack Shaw said: "The community was approached about naming the play park. There were silly names flying about.
"It was never going to be the case – and never will be the case.
"The Prince William one came to the fore – that is the one we focused on."
He added: "It is like everything else in the walk of life, people would say stupid things and don't really mean them.
"We went round the doors and we said what would you like to name the play park?
"Some people didn't care, other people said we don't mind and other people said we would like to call it different things."
However, Mr Shaw said the response could have been out of "frustration" over the renaming of a park in Newry after IRA hunger striker Raymond McCreesh last year.
The move sparked outrage amongst the unionist community.
In 1977, McCreesh was convicted of attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, possession of firearms with intent to endanger life and PIRA membership.
He died on hunger strike in 1981.
Mr Shaw added: "It was a bad idea in Newry, it would be a bad idea anywhere to call play parks after terrorists.
"I think the community wouldn't accept it as a whole and I don't think the Murphy family would welcome that."
He said he believes "frustration" within the community following the McCreesh incident led to the suggestions.
"The main outcome of that survey was the community was 80% happy for it being called Prince William play park."
UUP councillor John Scott, who was chairing the meeting described the issue as "sad".
"Because of this situation in Newry, is this what people are doing to lower themselves right down to silly names like Lenny Murphy play park?
"There is no way our council would have passed that anyhow.
"But it is sad. I would say it was very minor – or few people would suggest that. The ordinary people in New Mossley would not want that."
A council consultation on the issue will be carried out later this month.
It will ask the public if it supports naming the space Prince William Park.