Deadline approaches for play park name consultation

December 15, 2014

As the deadline approaches for the return of consultation responses on the decision by Newry Council to name a city centre play park after IRA hunger striker, Raymond McCreesh, the public are being lobbied by representatives of all sides of the debacle.

The play park on Patrick Street in Newry was originally given the name Raymond McCreesh Park in 2001, however in December 2012 councillors were asked to reconsider that decision.  Despite opposition from Unionists, Sinn Fein and SDLP councillors voted to retain the name.

Following a complaint made regarding this decision, the Equality Commission investigated the matter and found that Newry and Mourne District Council failed to comply with its own Equality Scheme when deciding to retain the name.

DUP MLA for Newry and Armagh, William Irwin, has urged the Unionist and wider community to respond to the Equality Commission’s consultation to “outline their disgust with the decision to name a children’s play area after an IRA hunger striker and terrorist” before this Friday’s deadline (19th December).

Branding the decision a “ridiculous” one which “needs to be reversed” the DUP MLA made reference to the case brought by the Equality Commission against a Christian bakery owner in Newtownabbey after he refused to make a cake with a slogan in support of gay marriage.

“It has taken an extraordinary amount of time for the Equality Commission to get to this stage and this is in very stark contrast to the actions of the Commission in pursuing a Christian owned bakery,” he said

“The Equality Commission has gone to over an iced cake, yet a kids’ play park named after a terrorist merely goes out to public consultation.  That does not instill confidence in the Equality Commission within the Unionist Community.

“I would urge the Unionist and wider community to respond to the consultation and send a message to both Newry Council and the Equality Commission that the decision to name this play area after a terrorist was wrong on every level.”

Meanwhile Mayor Daire Hughes took to social media to tweet a picture and caption publicising Sinn Fein’s efforts in engaging in a “successful door to door campaign to save Raymond McCreesh Park.”

It is understood that a decision on the name of the park is likely to be taken by the new super-council after it comes into power in April, which could mean that the SDLP will ultimately decide as it holds more seats on the new council.

The SDLP has previously said it regrets initially supporting the retention of the name, with SDLP Party Leader, Alasdair McDonnell MP, acknowledging in the Assembly on 1st October that hurt had been caused by the decision and expressing his party’s regret.