Sinn Fein lodges official objection to new Council name

January 19, 2015

In opposition of Newry and Mourne District Council’s recent decision to retain Newry Mourne & Down as the name for the new super Council, Sinn Fein has lodged an official objection by initiating a course of action known as ‘Call-In’ procedure, the party has revealed.

The Call-In process allows for a decision, made by a council or one of its committees, to be called in for reconsideration, if at least 15 of its members request it.

The Examiner understands that seven councillors requested a call-in in relation to the chosen name for the super Council.  They claim it effectively excludes the whole south Armagh/Gullion area and the omission of any reference to Gullion in the new name will adversely impact on businesses and communities in south Armagh.

On Tuesday 6th January, the Council chose to retain the name Newry, Mourne and Down, with 23 councillors voting in its favour.  Sinn Fein, however, disagreed, saying the name was a snub to south Armagh and the party’s councillors voted for the name Newry City, Mourne and Gullion.

Incensed at the Council’s choice, the South Armagh Chamber of Commerce initiated a campaign to have the name changed to include Gullion and requested a meeting with Chief Executive Liam Hannaway to raise their concerns and have the decision reversed.

Sinn Fein has pledged its support to the Chamber and on Friday last, Councillor Roisin Mulgrew revealed that the party had lodged an objection to the decision by using the Call-In procedure.

“There is a huge backlash to the decision taken by the SDLP/Unionist voting bloc to exclude the entire south Armagh area from the name. Many local businesses, community and voluntary groups and individual residents have contacted me and my colleagues to register, in the strongest terms, their anger,” she said.

“All Sinn Féin elected representatives from across the new Council area supported the Newry City, Mourne & Gullion proposal. We felt that this name reflected the entire region that we serve and also gave recognition to Newry as the principal city. There is no rhyme or reason as to why in particular the SDLP have deliberately snubbed our area. The ratepayers of south Armagh should be included in the new name as of right, not of privilege.”

Letters of objection signed by more than 120 businesses and community groups were also handed in to senior Council officials, she added.

In a statement, the Council confirmed it had received the request and the Chief Executive is seeking legal advice on the matter.

“The council can confirm that it has received a call-in from seven councillors in relation to the name of the new council and this has been called in on the basis of the nature and extent of the disproportionate adverse impact this will have on the businesses and the community in south Armagh.

“The chief executive will now seek legal opinion on the admissibility of this call-in and will advise the council accordingly,” the statement read.

Commenting on the issue, the area’s MLA, Megan Fearon, said that south Armagh “has once again been cast aside” and claimed the exclusion of an entire region of the new Council area “has detached and isolated” the many people who are working hard to ensure its sustainability.

“Tourism, and investment in tourism, is, many of us believe, the most realistic way to generate employment and investment. Gullion has been a success story in terms of tourism and [Sinn Fein’s] name included the two areas of outstanding beauty, which the new council hoped to build on,” she said.

“Another example of the necessity to include south Armagh is the  Mourne, Gullion Cooley Geo Tourism project, a major project which highlights the rich cultural heritage and landscape of the region,” she added.