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‘No interest’ in sale of play park named after IRA hunger striker and subject of judicial review

A secret session updated councillors on a ‘lack of interest’ in the Newry play park park which was put up for sale in 2018

Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry
Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry

There has been “no interest” in the sale of a Newry playground named after an IRA hunger striker, councillors have heard.

Newry Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) had previously faced legal action over its decision to sell off Raymond McCreesh Park, with a judicial review finding that residents would need to be consulted on the future of the playground.

Councillors were given a recent behind closed doors update on efforts to dispose of the ‘surplus assets’ site at Patrick Street.

However, in open session, Sinn Fein chairperson of the strategy, policy and resources committee, Leeanne McEvoy, said: “During the surplus assets update, it was confirmed that the council’s Patrick Street site has had no interest.”

The city centre park has been a long-running source of controversy, with unionists bitterly opposed to it being named after a republican paramilitary in 2001.

McCreesh, from Camlough in Co Armagh, was one of 10 republican prisoners who died in the 1981 Maze Prison hunger strikes.

In October 2018, NMDDC put McCreesh Park up for sale as “surplus to requirements” despite community support for the playground being retained  resulting in a court case in 2019.

Phoenix Law solicitor, Gavin Booth was the legal rep for the Newry community during the judicial review.

He said: “After the residents took the council to a judicial review, NMDDC was to consult with the residents before any decision was made on the future of McCreesh Park.”

The Local Democracy Service contacted the local authority for clarity on the ‘site’ mentioned.

A spokesperson said: “I can confirm the site is currently the Raymond McCreesh Park.

“Newry, Mourne and Down District Council at the Strategy, Policy and Resources meeting on Thursday 14 September, agreed to continue to look at options for the site at Patrick Street.”

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