Immediate removal of IRA playpark name is rejected

Raymond McCreesh Park on Patrick Street in Newry City
Raymond McCreesh Park on Patrick Street in Newry City

Nationalist councillors have rejected a demand to immediately remove the name of an IRA convict from a playpark, but opted to open talks with the Equality Commission over the controversial matter.

At a Newry and Mourne council meeting yesterday, it was decided that discussions should begin with the commission following heavy criticism it had levelled against the authority over its decision to retain the name Raymond McCreesh on one of its parks.

The commission found that the council had failed in its equality duties and should re-think its decision, in the wake of long-running unionist objections to the name.

SDLP group leader, councillor Michael Carr, said yesterday after the meeting: “We’re moving forward with a view to review the decision, as per the report.

“We are reviewing it, but to review it properly we do need to speak to the Equality Commission.”

However, this decision was criticised as “so woolly that it was meaningless” by UKIP councillor Henry Reilly, who said that he had wanted an immediate removal of the name, but that this option had been rejected.

However, he does remain hopeful that the process to finally strip the name away has begun.

“I think it’s inevitable that will have to happen – it is only a matter of time,”he said, adding that “even moderate Catholic opinion” was behind that move.

The meeting comes after a group at an Easter Rising commemoration in the town on April 20 had been seen to carry a 30-foot long banner with the words “Raymond McCreesh our hero” on it – something blasted as “offensive to all right-thinking people” by the DUP.

In 1977, Raymond McCreesh was convicted of attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, firearms offences and PIRA membership.

He died in the Maze hunger strike four years later.