Woman, 88, launches legal challenge on IRA playground

Bea Worton
Bea Worton

An 88-year-old great-great-grandmother is taking the Equality Commission and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to court for it part in naming a playground after an IRA man linked to the murder of her son.

Bea Worton’s son Kenneth was one of 10 people murdered by the IRA in the Kingsmills massacre in south Armagh in 1976.

Five months later Raymond McCreesh was arrested with a weapon used in the attack.

The naming of a Newry playground after him has caused intense controversy.

Mrs Worton’s son Colin, 55, said: “It really says something about this country when an 88-year-old grandmother has to take two government bodies to court on this.

“The Equality Commission came out beating its chest initially and said the council decision was wrong. But then it did a complete u-turn and proved itself to be completely toothless.

“It took a very different tack when it fought against Ashers bakery for refusing to make a cake with a gay marriage slogan.”

The legal claim is that the council naming process was in breach of it own equality scheme and Section 75 of the Equality Act, and that the Equality Commission should have found against the council and referred the matter to the Secretary of State.

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy said: “I fully support Mrs Worton in her legal action but it is a sad indictment of the Equality Commission that an elderly, widowed and grieving mother should have to take this step.”

UUP councillor David Taylor added that society “simply cannot move forward” when public space is named after “those linked to – or who were responsible for – terrorist atrocities such as Kingsmills”.

Victims campaigner Willie Frazer noted that the Historical Enquiries Team found that two other men arrested with McCreesh in 1976 – Patrick Joseph Quinn and Daniel Oliver McGuinness – were also found with weapons used at Kingsmills.

The Equality Commission and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council confirmed they are aware that the legal process has begun.

Sinn Fein said that UUP support for the legal challenge is a “cheap electoral stunt” which ignores the wishes of “the vast majority of local residents who support the naming of the park”.