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Council motion to remove name of play park a ‘move to create tension’

A Unionist motion put before Newry, Mourne and Down Council to remove the name of a children’s play park is a move to create tension, according to Sinn Fein.

Newry and Armagh MP, Mickey Brady, has said the Unionist motion to Council to remove the name of Raymond McCreesh Park, led by councillor Henry Reilly, is a deliberate attempt to create community tension through demonising the residents of Ballybot.

“This park was named after local hunger striker, Raymond McCreesh, in 2001 through the democratically expressed wishes of the residents of Ballybot in Newry,” said Mr Brady.

“That view was endorsed by Council and received no complaints or objections until 2007 when the local Orange Order made an issue of Raymond’s name.

“Since then the decision has been through numerous Equality Commission and legal procedures which have found that the Council acted correctly in respecting the democratic wishes of the community.

“The Ballybot community have been demonised for more than 10 years by unionists politicians and commentators for honouring those who took part in the struggle for freedom in Ireland.”

Read more: Banner erected at children’s play park is ‘sick’ and ‘beneath contempt’

He added: “The park is bordered by Michael Mallon Park, James Connolly Park and John Martin Street and Gardens, all named after Irish patriots.

“Other public spaces in Newry have been named after those from a British and Unionist tradition, without objection from local communities.

“This latest attempt, led by councillor Henry Reilly, to trample over the will of the Ballybot community should be recognised by all councillors as a deliberate attempt to stir community tensions.

“I would appeal to the Council to respect the view of the overwhelming majority of the residents of Ballybot that the park which serves their community should retain the name of Raymond McCreesh.”

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