Sinn Fein to contest sale of Newry park named after former IRA member

Sinn Fein to contest sale of Newry park named after former IRA member

SINN FEIN have vowed to challenge a council decision to sell off the controversial Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry.

The Newry, Mourne and Down District Council revealed last week that they were planning to sell the park, which has caused controversy in the area since it was renamed after the late IRA man in 2001.

Raymond McCreesh, from Carnlough in Armagh, was reportedly in possession of a rifle used in the 1976 Kingsmill Massacre killings when he was captured later that year.

Ten people were killed in the attack.

McCreesh was one of seven IRA prisoners who died in the 1981 Maze Prison hunger strikes.

His convictions included attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, possession of firearms with intent to endanger life and IRA membership.

In April a banner was hung on a fence in the park declaring McCreesh "our hero".

Following a report into play park provision in the council area it had been decided to dispose of the park and replace it with a new park nearby.

Unionists and IRA victims have been calling for the name of the park to be changed for years.

Now, Sinn Fein have announced that they will challenge the decision through a 'call-in' procedure.

A 'call-in' allows councillors to request that an issue be reexamined if they feel that it was not handled correctly or will have an adverse impact on a particular section of the community.

Newry Sinn Fein councillor Liz Kimmins said that the party believed the community should be consulted on the issue of what to do with the park.

“The Council decision to dispose of Raymond McCreesh Park without community consultation is against with the wishes of local residents in the Barcroft and Ballybot areas," Councillor Kimmins said.

“At last Monday’s meeting Sinn Fein opposed the disposal based on concerns raised by local residents and community groups and proposed a full community consultation.

“This was rejected by the SDLP and unionist parties which is hardly surprising given that they have always wished to remove the name of Raymond McCreesh Park.

“Despite the fact that ten play parks in Newry & Mourne Council area have been declared as surplus assets, Raymond McCreesh is the only one that has been fast-tracked for disposal."