Commission was ‘keen to take on’ mum on IRA park

Bea Worton, 89, leaves Belfast High Court with her son Colin during the legal challenge against McCreesh Park. Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Bea Worton, 89, leaves Belfast High Court with her son Colin during the legal challenge against McCreesh Park. Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

In the wake of the Equality Commission’s defeat on this week’s ‘gay cake’ case, a south Armagh man has slammed it for engaging in a legal battle with his 89-year old mother over an ‘IRA playground’.

Bea Worton took a judicial review against the commission in 2016 after it accepted Newry Mourne and Down District Council’s decision to name a Newry playground after IRA man Raymond McCreesh.

Mrs Worton noted McCreesh’s weapon was used in the murder of her son Kenneth in the 1976 Kingsmills Massacre. The Equality Commission initially accepted the name but changed its mind after her legal challenge in 2016.

Mrs Worton’s son Colin said the Ashers victory reminded him of his mother’s win against the commission. “They only listened to one side of the argument, it was nearly the same as McCreesh Park,” he said. “In our case they did not really listen to us either until it was done and dusted in court. They actually went as far as saying that they were ‘looking forward’ to meeting my 89-year-old mother in court.”

However a spokesman for the commission said the two cases involved two different aspects of equality law, the commission using different roles and processes in each case.

In the Ashers case the commission supported a man who complained about alleged discrimination, initially as far as the County Court. In the playground case, the commission investigated the council’s compliance with equality legislation, asking it to review the name. When the council supported the name again in a vote the commission expressed “disappointment” but accepted that it complied with legislation. The commission considered the case further after Mrs Worton’s legal challenge and concluded the council had not “had not fully complied with the commission’s recommendations” and advised that the council hold another public debate and vote on the issue.