Council to revisit naming of playpark after hunger striker

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

Councillors in Newry and Mourne on Monday night will again be asked to vote on the naming of a playpark after IRA hunger striker Raymond McCreesh.

When a motion calling for the name to be dropped was debated in recent weeks, eight of the nine SDLP councillors failed to attend and the one that did abstained.

It later emerged that the SDLP members, whose party policy is to oppose the current name, had requested the meeting take place and that any vote taken would be binding. After days of silence on the matter, SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said the council was “wrong” to retain the name and his party’s councillors were “wrong” for not attending.

Speaking on Friday, Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor said Monday’s vote would “offer the SDLP an opportunity to salvage some dignity,” and added: “There is no doubt that a great deal of anger and dismay exists within the unionist community towards the SDLP at present as a consequence of their failure to do what was morally right in terms of actively pursuing the removal of the name of Raymond McCreesh Park.”

Upper Bann DUP MP David Simpson said the SDLP was “either leaderless or unleadable”.

He added: “It is clear that the SDLP is trying to ride two horses and out-green Sinn Fein. Their actions will undoubtedly have a consequence in the general election when some SDLP candidates will be seeking votes from those who opposed everything the PIRA represented.”