Pensioner to mount High Court challenge over playpark name

April 11, 2016

An 88-year-old pensioner has been granted permission to mount a High Court challenge over a Newry playground being named after hunger striker Raymond McCreesh.

Bea Worton – whose son Kenneth was one of 10 people murdered in the Kingsmill massacre in January 1976 – is challenging the decision by the former Newry and Mourne District Council to call the park after the Camlough man who died on hunger strike in Long Kesh in May 1981.

Mrs Worton was granted leave to seek a judicial review against the Equality Commission and the Council.

In court on Friday her barrister described how McCreesh was reportedly in possession of a rifle used in the Kingsmill killings when he was captured later that year.

David Scoffield QC said: “The applicant’s outrage at this decision (in naming the park) is particularly acute.  She was and remains shocked and bewildered by the insensitivity of the decision.”

Proceedings were issued against the Commission and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

Part of the case involves a claim that the naming process breached Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act, which requires public authorities to promote good relations between those of differing religious backgrounds or political opinion.

The Equality Commission, according to Mrs Worton’s legal team, should have found against the local authority and referred the matter to the Secretary of State.

Tony McGleenan QC, responding for the Commission, argued that it had gone through a painstaking process before making recommendations stating: “It’s difficult to establish any arguability that there’s been a public law wrong by the Commission.”

However, Mr Justice Maguire ruled that the challenge should proceed to a full hearing on claims that the Commission was in breach of Section 75 requirements.

He also held that an arguable case had been established against the Council over allegations its decision was irrational, unreasonable, pre-determined or biased.

Dismissing calls for the case to be thrown out due to delay, he said: “There’s a matter of public interest involved in this particular decision.”

Mrs Worton, who was present in court for the hearing, expressed her delight at the outcome.