Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein challenging council sale of Raymond McCreesh Park

Sinn Fein have announced they are going to challenge a council decision to sell off the controversial Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry.

It was revealed last week that Newry, Mourne and Down District Council were planning to dispose of the Ballybot park, which has caused controversy after it was renamed in tribute to the former IRA man in 2001.

Following a report into play park provision in the council area it had been decided to dispose of the park and replace it with a new park nearby.

There are also plans to build 200 new houses in the area.

However, Sinn Fein have announced they will challenge the decision through a 'call-in' procedure.

A 'call-in' allows councillors to request that an issue be reexamined if they feel that it was not handled correctly or will have an adverse impact on a particular section of the community.

Newry Sinn Fein councillor Liz Kimmins said that her party wanted a community consultation on the issue.

“The Council decision to dispose of Raymond McCreesh Park without community consultation is against with the wishes of local residents in the Barcroft and Ballybot areas," Councillor Kimmins said.

“At last Monday’s meeting Sinn Fein opposed the disposal based on concerns raised by local residents and community groups and proposed a full community consultation.

“This was rejected by the SDLP and unionist parties which is hardly surprising given that they have always wished to remove the name of Raymond McCreesh Park.

“Despite the fact that ten play parks in Newry & Mourne Council area have been declared as surplus assets, Raymond McCreesh is the only one that has been fast-tracked for disposal."

Unionists and IRA victims had repeatedly called for the name of the park to be changed.

The SDLP initially supported the renaming of the park, but have changed their stance in recent years.

McCreesh, from Carnlough in Armagh, was reportedly in possession of a rifle used in the 1976 Kingsmill Massacre killings when he was captured later that year.

10 people were killed in the attack.

McCreesh was one of seven IRA 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 April a banner was hung on a fence in the park declaring McCreesh "our hero".

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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