Republicans have been accused of “triumphalism and belligerence” after Irish tricolours and a banner bearing the name of a convicted IRA terrorist were erected at a controversial children’s play park in Newry.
Independent unionist Councillor Henry Reilly said he was shocked by the display and claimed republicans were trying to intimidate the minority unionist community.
The banner proclaims the backing of ‘Ballybot residents’ for dead IRA terrorist Raymond McCreesh, who is described as “Our Hero”.
“I have no doubt that this is a message being sent to the unionist minority in Newry Mourne and Down District that your views do not count for anything and we regard the people who terrorised your community and butchered and killed them as heroes,” said Mr Reilly.
“I call on the council staff to immediately remove the offending signs and flags. This play facility is in a high pedestrian area where people from all sections of the community use the public facilities in the general area and this type of action is designed to intimidate and scare non nationalist/republicians from the area.
“We the unionist representatives from Newry, Mourne and Down will continue to work for justice and freedom from sectarian harassment and intimidation for all our people.”
The play park was controversially named after McCreesh in 2001 and has been subject to a legal challenge led by Bea Worton, the mother of one of the victims of the 1976 Kingsmills massacre.
A member of the Provisional IRA’s South Armagh Brigade, McCreesh was arrested in 1976 aged 19 while attempting to ambush an army observation post.
He became the third of 10 republicans to die on hunger strike 1981 in the Maze Prison after Bobby Sands and Francis Hughes.