Belfast Telegraph

Bid to rename Raymond McCreesh children's play park fails

By Allan Preston and Jonathan Bell

A challenge to change the name of the controversial Raymond McCreesh play park in Newry has been defeated.

Instead Newry and Mourne District councillors passed an amendment to wait until a process - agreed in December - concludes on what should happen to the park's name.

The park was named after IRA man and hunger striker McCreesh in 2001. He was implicated in the 1976 killing of 10 protestant workmen in the Kingsmill massacre when he was arrested with a weapon used in the attack.

Last year the SDLP voted against renaming the park in an effort to "avoid stoking tensions".

And last week a banner was hung on a fence declaring McCreesh "our hero".

There were angry scenes during Monday night's council meeting after a Sinn Fein amendment to a unionist motion to rename the park succeeded in delaying any decision with 24 voting in favour and 10 against. There were three abstentions.

Unionist councillors stormed out of the meeting in protest. Councillor Henry Reilly angrily accused others in the chamber of “republican arrogance".

Speaking after the meeting Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor said he was “deeply angry and disappointed” by the decision.

“This latest snub is a further blow to innocent victims of republican violence who have already had to endure significant hurt and pain as a consequence of this ongoing issue," he said.

“Once again republican and nationalists have failed to properly address the very legitimate concerns of innocent victims and indeed the minority unionist community on the Raymond McCreesh Park issue.

“Faced with a straight choice between doing the right thing on this matter, to search their consciences and take a moral stand against the naming of a public facility after a convicted terrorist, they failed.

“In choosing not to acknowledge the genuine concerns that exist, and the deep hurt caused, they are re-traumatising victims and placing further significant strain on community relations.

"Despite all the rhetoric coming from republicans in particular about equality and respect, it is clear that they have absolutely no respect for the innocent victims of terrorist violence, nor have they any intention of ever providing equality to members of the minority Unionist community.

“This is a very sorry situation we now find ourselves in. It is quite clear that republican and nationalist representatives on Newry, Mourne & Down District Council have no desire to sign up to the concept of a truly shared society and that is a damning indictment on them and the council itself.”

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