Ulster Unionists launch bid to remove name of IRA hunger striker from children’s playground
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Ulster Unionists launch bid to remove name of IRA hunger striker from children’s playground

UNIONIST councillors in Newry, Co. Down have renewed their attempts to have the name of Raymond McCreesh, an IRA hunger striker, removed from a children’s play park in the town.

The controversial issue will be discussed next week at a meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

Leading Unionist councillors declared that they have “no other option” but to submit a new motion following the failure of the council to meet a deadline to gift the park to the neighbouring Ballybot community.

In December of last year, councillors were presented with three options to proceed with: keep the name, change it, or leave it until a review of Council playgrounds was carried out this year.

This could see the park change ownership from the Council to the Ballybot community with the Council then absolved of any naming issues.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP both voted for option three, which meant it was comfortably passed.

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However, the proposal had to be put into motion before March 29 this year.

Raymond McCreesh Park was opened in 2001, sparking a backlash from unionists who claimed it glorified terrorism.

McCreesh was a member of the Provisional IRA’s south Armagh brigade. He was arrested in 1976, aged 19 while attempting to ambush an Army observation post.

The gun he was found with had been used months earlier in the Kingsmill massacre of 10 Protestant workmen.