Belfast Telegraph

Public to be consulted on Raymond McCreesh Park sale

Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry
Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry

By Alan Erwin

A playground named after an IRA hunger striker which was set to be sold off may have secured a reprieve, it has been claimed in court.

Newry Mourne and Down District Council is facing legal action over its decision to dispose of the Raymond McCreesh Park.

Judicial review proceedings were brought by a pensioner who lives close to the facilities, alleging a failure to carry out adequate community consultation.

But Rosaleen Murphy's solicitor said the case was adjourned at the High Court on Monday following developments on the process sought.

Gavin Booth of Phoenix Law disclosed: "We have now received confirmation that there will be a consultation before any steps are taken with respect to the future of Raymond McCreesh Park.

"This will involve the entire community, including local residents."

The park in Newry has been a long-running source of controversy, with unionists bitterly opposed to it being named after a republican paramilitary.

McCreesh, from Camlough in Armagh, was one of 10 republican prisoners who died in the 1981 Maze Prison hunger strikes.

His convictions included attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, possession of firearms with intent to endanger life and IRA membership.

In October last year the council decided to sell off the park as it was deemed "surplus to requirements".

Under the D1 disposal process other public bodies would have first refusal on the Patrick Street site, with its name a matter for any new owner.

But Mrs Murphy's lawyers insisted the park represents an important place where her children and grandchildren played.

For her community, the site also stands as a significant symbol to those with a republican mindset, according to their case.

They contended that the D1 process involved no element of community consultation.

Following brief submissions today Mrs Justice Keegan adjourned due to developments in the case.

Outside court Mr Booth said the Council has seven days to provide details on the proposed consultation.

Describing the outcome as a potential reprieve for the park, he added: "If the terms are not satisfactory the court has left the case open for liberty to reapply."

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