Concerns over Saoradh vigil at Raymond McCreesh ‘IRA playground’

Supporters attending a republican gathering organised by Saoradh at Raymond McCreesh play park in Newry in May 2018.
Supporters attending a republican gathering organised by Saoradh at Raymond McCreesh play park in Newry in May 2018.

A unionist councillor is lobbying Newry Mourne and Down District Council to ensure that a proposed Saoradh vigil does not take place in a playground named after IRA man Raymond McCreesh in Newry.

In a statement on Facebook, the Newry branch of Saoradh announced it was to hold a “Hunger Strike Vigil in Ray McCreesh Park” in Newry.

The party, which is linked to the so-called New IRA, has come under widespread condemnation after that terror group shot dead journalist Lyra McKee in Londonderry recently.

Raymond McCreesh was arrested with a weapon used in the Kingsmills Massacre several months after the 1976 atrocity. He died on hunger strike on 21 May 1981.

Describing itself as “The Revolutionary Republican Party”, Saoradh said it was planning to mark the anniversary of “local Republican hero Raymond McCreesh”.

Newry Saoradh spokesperson Stephen Murney said: “We are immensely proud of the sacrifice Raymond McCreesh made for his country’s freedom. Such is the respect the local community have for the freedom fighter, Saoradh will hold a black flag vigil in his memory. This commemorative event will give everyone the opportunity to remember Raymond in a dignified and fitting fashion.

“No better place to have this event than in the heart of the community who hold him in such high esteem. That’s the reason we have once again decided to hold this event in Raymond McCreesh Park.”

The event is planned for Saturday 18 May at 2pm.

But UUP councillor David Taylor said he was meeting the council chief executive about the proposed event, to see if any request had been made to use the park.

“I will be making efforts to make sure people would not have access for this type of event and I hope that all other parties will do likewise,” he said.

In the case of an event taking place on council property without requesting permission, he said such a scenario would have to be raised in advance with the police.

“Last year Saoradh organised a vigil at McCreesh Park which was held outside the premises on the footpath”, he noted.