Probe into Newry playpark's 'IRA name'

Published Thursday, 07 March 2013
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The Equality Commission is to investigate the naming of a playpark in Newry after an IRA hunger striker.

Probe into Newry playpark's 'IRA name'
The commission will look into the naming of the playpark. (© Getty)

Newry and Mourne District councillors voted last year to retain the name of The Raymond McCreesh Park, sparking outrage from unionist politicians.

South Armagh man McCreesh was a convicted IRA member who had been jailed during the Troubles for offenses including attempted murder.

He died in the Maze prison in 1981 after spending 61 days on hunger strike.

The commission said its investigation will consider whether the council failed to comply with equality guidelines in deciding to keep the name, which was first adopted in 2001.

A statement explained: "The investigation will consider whether, in making its decision, the council has failed to comply with commitments made in its Equality Scheme: namely to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity across the nine equality groups, and to have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group.

"After consideration by its statutory duties investigation committee, the Commission is satisfied that it would be appropriate to have a belief that such a failure may have occurred in this instance. This is not a determination of whether or not such a failure has in fact occurred."

It is understood the investigation could take several months to complete.

A spokeswoman from Newry and Mourne District Council said: "Newry and Mourne District Council can confirm it has received correspondence from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland advising the commission has authorised an investigation of failure to comply with an approved quality scheme under Section 75, Schedule 9, Paragraph 11 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

"As stated within our approved equality scheme, the council will co-operate fully with the investigation by the Equality Commission."

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy said he was delighted at the Equality Commission decision to investigate the chosen name, which he claimed had damaged community relations.

"I said at the time that I honestly could not think of anyone less deserving of commemoration in any shape or form - let alone a children's playpark - than Raymond McCreesh, and that those who voted for this should hang their heads in shame.

"I look forward to a speedy investigation and am confident the Commission will find that the decision taken by Sinn Fein and the SDLP in December was clearly wrong and that those councillors be held to account and take responsibility for their actions," he added.

© UTV News
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27 Comments
John in Newry wrote (537 days ago):
I actually used to live in the Patrick street area of newry and played in that park when growing up, it was never known as the Raymond mc Creesh park by those who used it. The people who used that park were not republican and it should not have been named after one!
Michael Taggart in Yorkshire wrote (538 days ago):
To Protestant in Hardcore Loylist area You are a breath of fresh air. I wish more people from both sides would come out and state that they feel the same, I know from experience that the vast majority in both communities would love to live side by side in a shared furure, I for one just want everyone to be able to live in peace.I am living testament that this can happen as my first wife and I were from each side of the devide and my second wife is both protestant and English, we have lived in NI, Cork in the South and now live in Yorkshire, not once in both marriages did we have an argument over religion, My son who lives in Saintfield is Catholic but sends my granddaughters to a Protestant school, his decision was made for the good of his children and not any other reason as should be. The past should stay in the past and we should look to the future and try to make it a better place for our children that they never have to witness what we had to.
Iain in Belfast wrote (538 days ago):
Ryan, time to grow up fella and take your head out of the sand. You recently admitted that you are only a kid (which goes a long way to explain your naive political views)so stop being a hypocrit or get back under your rock. Seriously, you keep banging on about an island of equals yet constantly drone on about the evils of everything that's not Sinn Fein. Open your eyes. And just before you moan on about being criticized by unionists etc 1. you deserve it considering some of the rubbish you come out with and 2. A lot of the criticism comes from people who want an end to all the tribal rubbish. You say you would like to see an end to the violence etc but then give us all a history lesson about the evil empire. Put up or please shut up, get that chip off your shoulder and live a little. Or just keep rolling out your foolish propaganda and forget about a future and keep harping on about the past. Your closing sentence oozed bitterness.
Danny in Ulster wrote (538 days ago):
Glad to see a few sensible comments from both sides of the divide. There is no need for any public park to be named after a contentious figure from either community. A local landmark theme is a good idea. As for Ryan from Belfast - you need to wise up, and maybe grow up a bit?
K in Bangor wrote (538 days ago):
The complete lack of basic grammar in these comments have completely killed my desire to write a constructive reply to annoy of the comments so far.
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