Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Proposal to reclassify Crossmaglen town status vehemently opposed

 A Council proposal to reclassify the status of Crossmaglen from town to village has been angrily rejected by local politicians who have vowed to prevent any such change from taking place.

It emerged that a development plan compiled for Newry Mourne and Down District Council, which was up for debate at its Strategic, Policy and Resources Committee last week, proposed the status of Crossmaglen be reclassified and reduced from town to village.

SDLP Councillor Pete Byrne says he is shocked by the suggestion and claims the move will restrict future economic growth in Crossmaglen

“It’s extraordinary that this proposal was made considering how far Crossmaglen has come in terms of infrastructure development over the last number of years,” he said and claimed the proposal is based on “blatant contradiction” around the necessary criteria.

“In the document it states although some settlements like Crossmaglen have a significant number of services like a Health Care Centre, Fire Station and local Library, its population of only 1608 does not justify it being classified as a small town. However, it later states that population size alone should not dictate the classification, but take into consideration the range of facilities provided and the ability to serve the wider area,” he explained.

Mr Byrne says that without Crossmaglen’s current town status, it would not have benefitted from progress made in recent years, such as the development of the Cross Square Hotel, Casey’s Eurospar and a state-of-the-art Credit Union; and, in the face of Brexit, a reclassification “has the potential to damage the town long term and hinder future infrastructure development.”

Sinn Fein’s Terry Hearty also reacted angrily to the proposed change and says it only serves to highlight an unhealthy “poor relations” attitude by some to the Slieve Gullion area.

Councillor Hearty says he told the meeting that the “ridiculous” proposal “will not happen”, a view he says was accepted by the Committee.

“I fully expect the full Council to pass our recommendation that there will be no change to the town status,” he said.  “I and my party fought hard to have south Armagh as a region included in our Council area name.  We argued at the time that the absence of any recognition of the Slieve Gullion area in the Council area would send out the wrong message and would result in a negative impact on the towns, villages and communities of the area. This ridiculous proposal to change Crossmaglen from a town to a village once again confirms that we in the Slieve Gullion area are seen as the ‘poor relations’. I will not allow this to happen, and will continue to challenge  such attitudes and ensure that the south Armagh region is treated equally and respected by all,” he added.