Naming a park after McCreesh was a highly insensitive move

Morning View
Morning View

Bea Worton, whose son was murdered in the IRA 1976 atrocity in Kingsmills, achieved a small victory in court yesterday.

The grandmother won permission to mount a judicial review against the Equality Commission and a local council over the decision to call a park in Newry after the late IRA hunger striker Raymond McCreesh, who is one of the Kingsmills suspects.

Ms Worton is now aged 88, and having lived through 40 years of grief for her son, she is now one of the longest suffering Troubles victims. Then she had to endure a naming that left her “shocked and bewildered by [its] insensitivity”, her barrister told the High Court yesterday.

To have called a play park after a man implicated in crimes including Kingsmills was a cruel act by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. It was a serious misjudgment by a local authority. If it was not against equality guidelines, then you wonder what role ‘equality’ can have in decision making by public bodies.

It is welcome that the SDLP reversed its position on the McCreesh naming, albeit after some delay, having initially supported it at the council level and then seemed to support that decision at leadership level.

This was one of many recent instances where the party has seemed confused in the face of hardcore republican conduct, including its recent support for a motion in the north west condemning a decision to detain a dissident republican for alleged breach of licence conditions.

Watching the SDLP behave in this way is a sorry sight.

The party was unequivocally and bravely opposed to Provisional IRA violence during the Troubles, and was much despised by republicans for its stance.

It is understandably concerned about losing support to Sinn Fein. But out-greening the latter is unlikely to be successful. Reminding the younger generation of the IRA’s true nature might reap bigger electoral dividends.