Steering group aims to counteract adverse publicity

March 25, 2013

Negative publicity surrounding Crossmaglen and the wider south Armagh area, which appeared in some sections of the press recently, has had a serious detrimental effect on the town’s image, a public meeting in the town’s Community Centre heard on Friday.

The meeting was facilitated by Newry and Mourne District Council in response to concerns from local businesses and the public in an attempt to counteract scurrilous accusations made in print and broadcast media in recent weeks regarding a number of groups and individuals from the area.  Specific comments made by a Sunday World journalist linking the area to the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, near Dundalk, in January were particularly deliberate in casting the area in a poor light.

Those present heard how such incidences of deliberate contemptible reporting only serve to undermine the concentrated and genuine work that has been ongoing in recent years by groups such as SOAR (Southern Organisation for Action in Rural Areas) and the Ring of Gullion to promote the area positively, Councillor Terry Hearty, who chaired the meeting, said.

Following in-depth and productive discussions, it was agreed by all that a combined reaction was needed to highlight the strenuous on-going work and major investment that has created a south Armagh different from that portrayed in such articles.

Speaking at the event on behalf of the South Armagh Chamber of Commerce, Colm Murphy said: “It is in the Chamber’s best interest for the good of its members to voice all concerns in relation to this matter. Now is the time for putting in the work to ensure a positive and unified outcome, especially within the economic climate that we find ourselves in, and I welcome the backing of Newry and Mourne District Council in driving this initiative forward.”

Fiona Kieran from the Cross Square Hotel said the business people of Crossmaglen need support and stressed the importance of developing a strategic plan incorporating economic development, tourism and sport.

The area’s MP, Conor Murphy, paid tribute to those keen to promote the area positively and called for a Steering Group to be established to liaise with relevant bodies in forming a plan of action.

Closing the meeting, Councillor Hearty thanked everyone for their positive contributions.

“This was a very successful meeting that focused on how we can collectively ensure that Crossmaglen and the surrounding district is shown in a better light by the national media. We have a lot to offer here and this was outlined by many of the people who attended,” he said.

It is expected that the steering group will begin its work immediately, liaising with relevant bodies and agencies to develop a strategic plan of work.