Belfast Telegraph

Victim slams justification for play park's IRA name 'perverse'

The Raymond McCreesh Park in Ballybot, Newry
The Raymond McCreesh Park in Ballybot, Newry

By Allan Preston

The sister of a woman murdered by the IRA has called attempts to justify the naming of a Newry play park after a hunger striker "perverse".

Ann Travers lost her 22-year-old sister Mary in a gun attack on their Magistrate father in 1984.

The play park has been the source of controversy since it was named after Raymond McCreesh in 2001.

He was arrested after being found with weapons linked to the Kingsmill massacre in which 10 Protestant workmen died.

A council motion to rename the park was defeated by a Sinn Fein amendment this week.

Nationalist commentator Jude Collins debated the issue on BBC Radio Ulster, noting that while unionists viewed McCreesh as a terrorist, residents revered him because of his sacrifice rather than his role as an IRA man.

"He's honoured as being a hunger striker. Somebody who believed the struggle of the IRA was a political one, not a criminal one, and he sacrificed his life for that," he said.

Ms Travers responded: "You can't separate being a hunger striker from his IRA past. He was in prison for being a member of a terrorist organisation and committed a criminal offence."

Regarding the latest flare-up of the council row, she said: "It's crazy that families are being put under so much stress. It's quite shameful that victims aren't being listened to.

"The park is still being paid for by ratepayers, so there is a chance that those hurt by McCreesh's actions are going to pay for the upkeep of the park. That's pretty perverse."

Belfast Telegraph

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