Belfast Telegraph

UUP proposes law to prohibit tributes to terrorists

By Michael McHugh

A proposed new law to prevent public facilities such as parks from being named after convicted terrorists could have support from unionists and nationalists, political leaders at Stormont have said.

It follows a row over Sinn Fein's naming of a children's play park in Newry after IRA hunger striker Raymond McCreesh, who was found guilty of attempted murder.

Yesterday, the Ulster Unionists began consulting on a Private Member's Bill to prohibit similar decisions and the SDLP has said it would support comprehensive legislation.

SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell said: "We would look positively at it if the bill was comprehensive enough, covering all victims and all aspects of terrorism, state terrorism, paramilitary terrorism, dissident and provisional and loyalist terrorism.

"The victims and survivors have suffered and we are there to protect them - we feel that they have suffered enough."

The Raymond McCreesh play park is in Newry, Co Down.

McCreesh, from Camlough in south Armagh, was one of 10 IRA prisoners who died in the Maze Prison hunger strikes in 1981. He was 24. His convictions included attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, possession of firearms with intent to endanger life and IRA membership.

He had been arrested five years earlier during a failed IRA ambush on an Army patrol in south Armagh in 1976.

In 2012, relatives of victims of the Kingsmills massacre - a sectarian IRA shooting of 11 Protestants in 1976 - objected to the name. McCreesh was not convicted of the massacre, but the 2012 Historical Enquiries Team report stated that when he was arrested on another IRA operation, he was caught in possession of one of the guns used in the Kingsmills murders.

"Failure to introduce legislation will simply prolong the current situation where naming decisions can negatively affect community relations and risk further division along political and religious lines," Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott said.

The consultation process will run for six weeks until April 13.

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