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Row erupts over Belfast playpark 'named for ex-IRA man' Gerard Davison

By Cate McCurry

Published 31/08/2015

Gunned down: Jock Davison
Gunned down: Jock Davison

Unionists have warned they will resist attempts to name a children's playpark after murdered former IRA leader Gerard 'Jock' Davison.

A row has erupted after reports in a local newspaper referred to the playpark on Stewart Street in the Markets as the Jock Davison Park.

However, according to Belfast City Council, the children's area is still called the Stewart Street playground.

The council-owned facility was reopened by Sinn Fein Mayor Arder Carson who attended a ceremony to mark the refurbishment of the park. Unionists are now saying they will block any attempts to rename it if it has any links to the murdered man.

Sinn Fein councillor Gerry McCabe said there were no plans to seek a "formal renaming" of the playpark in memory of Davison.

UUP South Belfast MLA Michael McGimpsey has vowed to investigate if the naming was officially endorsed.

He added that it could become a repeat of the controversy over Raymond McCreesh park in Newry, which was named after the dead hunger striker.

"We should not be naming playparks after someone who was reported to have been an IRA commander," he said. "He is not an appropriate role model and you have to ask what sort of message does this send out to young people.

"I will be working with Belfast City Council colleagues to see how much public money was spent on this playpark and whether the renaming was officially endorsed by the council."

The park is not far from the junction of Welsh Street and Stanfield Street, where the former IRA leader was murdered earlier this year.

The 47-year-old father-of-three was on his way to the local community centre where he worked when he was attacked on May 5.

Ex-IRA man Kevin McGuigan was murdered in the Short Strand area earlier this month in retaliation for Davison's murder after he was suspected of involvement in the killing.

So far 11 people have been arrested in relation to the murders of both men, but no one has yet been charged with either death.

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