Grandmother ends legal challenge to Equality Commission over play park

Bea Worton
Bea Worton

A grandmother has ended her High Court action against the Equality Commission over a playground being named after an IRA hunger striker.

Lawyers for Bea Worton accepted part of her challenge has been rendered academic by the body rescinding its previous stance on the decision to call the park in Newry after Raymond McCreesh.

A judge agreed to dismiss the case against the Commission and ordered it to pay half the 88-year-old pensioner’s legal costs up to the point it reached a new position.

Mrs Worton’s continuing bid to judicially review Newry, Mourne and Down District Council for alleged bias or irrationally in the same decision-making process was adjourned for six weeks.

Her son Kenneth was one of 10 people massacred by the IRA at Kingsmills, south Amagh in 1976.

The court was previously told how McCreesh was reportedly in possession of a rifle used in the killings when he was captured later that year.

According to Mrs Worton’s legal team she was left shocked and outraged by the insensitivity of the playground decision.

Controversy has continued to surround the park since councillors voted to retain the name in February last year.

McCreesh, from Camlough in south Armagh, was one of 10 IRA prisoners who died in the hunger strike in the Maze Prison in 1981.

His convictions included attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, possession of firearms with intent to endanger life and IRA membership.

Part of the legal challenge involved a claim that the naming process breached Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act, which requires public authorities to promote good relations between those of differing religious backgrounds or political opinion.

The Equality Commission, according to Mrs Worton’s legal team, should have found against the local authority and referred the matter to the Secretary of State.

It was accused it of a “volte-face” by switching from an earlier opinion where it had requested the council to review the naming decision.

In court today, however, David Scoffield QC, for Mrs Worton, confirmed that the Commission has now rescinded its previous position.

“It’s taken the view we urged upon the Commission that the Council has not complied with what the Commission asked it to do,” he explained.

“The Equality Commission has gone back to the Council and asked them to take further steps.”

With that part of the challenge dismissed by consent, the barrister then asked for the case against the council to be “parked” for a period.

Mr Justice Maguire responded: “The court will simply adjourn for a further mention in six weeks time.”