McCreesh play park defended during republican rally
A Sinn Fein MLA yesterday reignited a long-running political row over the naming of a play park in Newry after a hunger striker.
Sinead Ennis blamed former UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy for stoking up controversy surrounding the children's park, which was named after Raymond McCreesh, an IRA man linked to the Kingsmill massacre.
The South Down MLA launched the attack on Mr Kennedy while delivering a speech at a hunger strike commemoration held in Castlewellan, Co Down, yesterday.
The event, which marked the deaths of 10 hunger strikers, including McCreesh, was attended by Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald, who gave the keynote address.
Speaking to the crowd before her party leader's speech, Ms Ennis insisted residents had "democratically lobbied to have their play park named after Raymond McCreesh".
She continued that at the time, there had been "no objections" from unionists or "constitutional nationalists" until Mr Kennedy decided to make it an issue for "political gain".
"In 2007 in an attempt to enhance his no surrender credentials, Danny Kennedy - through the Orange Order - decided to make the park an election issue. He failed," she said.
She then singled out three other politicians - the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell and Alex Attwood, and Tom Elliott of the UUP - who she said had all failed alongside Mr Kennedy in their attempt to have the park renamed.
"What do those four men have in common?" she asked.
"Every one of them are now failed politicians."
Her comments were greeted by cheers and applause from the crowd, before she added that she was "proud" to have attended the official opening of the park, describing McCreesh as "our hero".
"In recent times much has been made of commemorations like this one today, and our right to honour, to pay tribute to, our patriot dead," she added.
"Just as in 1981, our political opponents want to criminalise our heroes and they want us to forget.
"As we stand here today, let us send a message to friend and foe alike.
"We are proud of our fallen comrades and we will remember them."