Play strategy could impact on Newry ‘IRA playground’

Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry. Pic: Pacemaker
Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry. Pic: Pacemaker

It appears that a new ‘play strategy’ could potentially see Newry’s controversial ‘IRA playground’ merged with another facility.

There have been media reports in recent days that the future of the controversial Raymond McCreesh Park is in doubt following Newry, Mourne and Down Council’s proposal to consolidate it with Barcroft Community Centre play park under a new ‘Play Strategy’.

McCreesh Park caused headlines after it was named after IRA man Raymond McCreesh, who was arrested along with two others in 1976 in possession of a weapon used in the Kingsmills massacre.

Asked if the council plans could see McCreesh Park subsumed into another playground, a council spokeswoman said that although the strategy has been considered by committee, it is still at draft stage and has not yet been approved by council.

“The Draft Play Strategy identifies that further local consultation will be required to ensure the views of the local communities are taken into account for recommendations to existing or new parks and their locations,” she added.

The Equality Commission has directed the council to go through the naming process once again, citing concerns about transparency.

UUP councillor David Taylor said the fresh decision on the name is due in a few weeks.

“There has been no indication by officials that the play strategy could impact on this process,” he said.

Sinn Fein Councillor Liz Kimmins said: “The council has agreed that any decision about change in relation to McCreesh Park, Barcroft Play Park or indeed any local community play facility will only be by agreement with the community taken after a comprehensive consultation involving them.”