Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Savage calls on community association to withdraw ‘factually incorrect’ statement

SDLP Councillor Michael Savage has hit back at criticism levied at him by the Barcroft Community Association accusing him of using the local community as “pawns” in a “cheap election gimmick” in the most recent debacle over the disposal of Raymond McCreesh Play Park in Newry. 

The community group called into question claims they say the SDLP Councillor made in the October 1st full council meeting that he “carried out an audit” among residents over the future of the park.

In a statement released by BCA following the meeting, Chairman Darren Thompson, said Mr Savage had  made “unsupported claims that he called to every house in Barcroft and Ballybot and surveyed residents about the future of Raymond McCreesh Play Park.”

Challenging the councillor’s claim, Mr Thompson accused him of showing “a total lack of respect for the people of Barcroft and neighbouring areas with regards to the alleged ‘audit’”

Hitting back at the BCA statement, Councillor Savage told the Newry Democrat he is “deeply disappointed” at the community group’s statement and called on them to withdraw it on the grounds of it being “factually incorrect” as he says he did not use the word “audit” during the meeting.  Mr Savage said words had been put into his mouth and accused the BCA of making a “party political statement and it’s a deeply personal statement against me.” He challenged BCA members to “come out and meet the people that I knocked the doors and engaged with,” and to tell him exactly “where I have lied.”

The SDLP Councillor said the criticism levied “in a party political way” goes against “all the Articles of Memorandum of any community group in this area” and said he hoped the Barcroft Community Association would contact him to “thrash out the issue”- but he warned that if the statement is not withdrawn he will be compelled to take the matter to the Council Chief Executive.

“I would ask them to withdraw their statement as it is factually incorrect. I’m disappointed that when the opportunity was there to do that, it wasn’t done,” he said adding that he is prepared to meet the BCA “any time any place” to get answers as to why their statement was released “without the facts being correct.”