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Palace told to reject plan to name Northern Ireland park after Prince William

By David Young

Buckingham Palace has been told to reject a proposal to name a Newtownabbey play park in honour of Prince William, the Belfast Telegraph has learned.

An Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council committee will hear on Monday that the Royal Cabinet Office has denied permission to name the New Mossley play park 'Prince William Park'.

The loyalist housing estate's £100,000 play park at Ballyearl Drive hit the headlines after councillors revealed in 2013 that among the names suggested for the park by local people in a consultation exercise were the 'Lenny Murphy Play Park', and the 'UVF Recreational Centre'.

Murphy was leader of the notorious loyalist Shankill Butcher gang, who were responsible for the deaths of at least 23 people between 1975 and 1982.

But the most popular suggestion put forward was 'Prince William Park', which the Council then referred on to the Royal Cabinet Office.

The office advises the Sovereign on the use of Royal names on buildings and facilities.

Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Montgomery, who chairs the Council's Operations Committee, said he was disappointed at the decision not to grant the name change.

"We have to respect that decision - and hopefully at some stage in the future if there is a chance to name parts of the area appropriately, we would again apply and hope that generous consideration would be given to that request," he said.

Another UUP councillor, Mark Cosgrove - who was closely involved with the play park naming proposal - vowed that the rejection would not be the end of the matter.

"I'm taking this as a conditional refusal," he said.

"I think we have got to go back and provide some further evidence of the Royal links to New Mossley area - Prince Charles opened our civic centre in Mossley Mill, for example.

"This should not deter us from continuing to seek Royal assent, and we should continue to push for those links to be proven.

"It's a setback. But we're not going to give up," he vowed.

There is something of a tradition in the Newtownabbey borough for bestowing Royal place names, such as Prince Charles Way, Queen's Park and Jubilee Way.

The UUP councillor said he remained hopeful and said: "If not, we will have to come up with something else that the community can buy into.

"So I'm disappointed, but this is not the end of the matter as far as I am concerned.

"Community workers in the area are a bit disappointed, but they feel that we should continue to push for a Royal link," he added.

Mr Cosgrove vehemently condemned any suggestion that the park could ever have been called after one of the Shankill Butcher gang.

"No-one of any repute in the community would ever have dreamed of calling the park after Lenny Murphy.

"I think that was a sarcastic comment because of the situation in Newry, where a play park was named after an IRA terrorist.

"There is no way constitutional unionism would ever ask for a piece of council property to be named like that.

"That would be disgusting to most people," the councillor added.

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