Council will follow review advice on IRA playground

Dr Michael Wardlow of the Equality Commission
Dr Michael Wardlow of the Equality Commission

Newry Mourne and Down District Council has agreed to Equality Commission recommendations on a review of a playground named after IRA man Raymond McCreesh.

Chief Commissioner Michael Wardlow and Chief Executive Evelyn Collins met with councillors in Downpatrick on Thursday night.

The commission had previously affirmed the naming of the playground after Mr McCreesh, but performed a U-turn in July when challenged in a judicial review by Bea Worton, whose son was killed by the IRA in the Kingsmills Massacre.

After the legal challenge the commission said that the naming process had not been transparent and that the council must carry out a full review and vote.

The council said this week’s meeting provided an opportunity for councillors to seek clarification about the Equality Commission’s role and actions in the case.

Following a discussion, councillors agreed to the appointment of an independent consultant to undertake an analysis of the responses given in a public consultation on the name.

The consultant will also develop an options paper to help councillors consider how they will vote when they take a final decision on the name.

It is expected the vote will take place in January.

TUV councillor Henry Reilly said he had told the meeting that he had been involved in the issue since the play park had been renamed and that it had caused “anger, fear and frustration within the council’s minority community”.

He said the commission told councillors that the judicial review had found that the council had breached equality requirements; it had held discussion on the findings of a public consultation on the McCreesh name in a closed council meeting with no minutes taken.