Belfast Telegraph

Unionist anger after banner calling IRA man Raymond McCreesh 'our hero' erected at children's play park

A unionist councillor has said the decision to erect a banner referring to IRA man Raymond McCreesh as "Our Hero" is "sick".

The banner was erected at a controversial play park named for McCreesh in Newry.

It appears the banner was erected by local residents.

The park has attracted much controversy after it was named in honour of the former IRA man with unionists and victims calling for the name to be changed.

McCreesh, from Camlough in Armagh, was arrested while 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.

Controversy has continued to surround the park since councillors voted to retain the name in February 2015.

Last year the Equality Commission told the local authority it should debate and take a fresh decision on the park.

Local Unionist Councillor David Taylor said the banner was 'beneath contempt'.

“The banner on display at the children's play park is sick. To call a man who was caught in possession of one of the guns used at Kingsmills ‘our hero’ is beneath contempt. It is a deliberate insult directed at McCreesh's victims, their long suffering families and an insult to the memory of those murdered and injured in the Kingsmills massacre," he said.

“It again exposes Sinn Fein`s campaign for ‘rights, equality and respect’ as nothing more than a perverse charade. Despite being exposed earlier this year, this shows that any apologies given following insults about the Kingsmills massacre were just hollow words lacking in any genuine remorse for the hurt and pain they caused. Sinn Fein are now building up a long track record of carefully directed insults towards the victims of the IRA, and as my party Colleague Doug Beattie MC MLA has said, demonstrates the perverseness of Sinn Fein's attitude to the victims of IRA murder. They clearly have no shame.

“I am deeply disappointed and shocked at the endorsement of this banner by Ballybot residents. By doing so they are causing deep offence to a great many people, including their Unionist neighbours.

Cllr Taylor called on Sinn Fein to condemn the banner and have it removed.

“I call on Michelle O'Neill and members of Sinn Fein in Newry locally to condemn this insult and for the sake of community relations appeal for them to work to have this appalling banner removed,” he said.

The Belfast Telegraph have contacted Sinn Fein but they are yet to respond.

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