News

McCreesh Park gets Ballybot backing

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

BALLYBOT residents have set up a support group backing Raymond McCreesh Park.

The group, entitled 'Retain the Name - Raymond McCreesh Park', was formed following a residents meeting on Sunday, April 22.

In an unsigned letter that was left into The Newry Democrat office last week, a "spokesperson for the steering group" said they were disappointed by the SDLP and claimed that the party supported the renaming of the controversial play park.

"The play area was named Raymond McCreesh Park in 2001 and accepted by all members of the then Newry and Mourne District Council," said the spokesperson.

"Seven full years later the local Orange Order decided to object to the name of the park.

"We are amazed that a party who claim to have their roots in the Civil Rights campaign have now given full support for what can only be described as modern day gerrymandering by the local Orange Order.

"Local representatives should surely be aware that the overwhelming support given by the residents of Ballybot area for the name Raymond McCreesh Park cannot be denied their democratic right.

"The democratic decision cannot be undermined or ignored by political representatives who have been elected by the very same residents."

Responding to the claims a spokesman for the SDLP said: "At a special meeting on December 13, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council agreed to review the use and management of the land occupied by Raymond McCreesh Park in line with the council wide strategic review of play parks.

"This approach was recommended by management, proposed by the SDLP, seconded by Sinn Fein and supported by 23 of 32 councillors at the meeting."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein Councillor Liz Kimmins has requested that the council explores the possibility of sourcing an alternative site for an upgraded play park in the Barcroft area following a presentation by Playboard NI to the council's Active and Healthy Communities Committee.

The Newry councillor added that the granting of planning permission for an additional development at the top of Barcroft should also be factored into any final report.

"It is important that the local community can give consideration to all the available options before reaching a final decision," she said.

"We have requested that officers report back to the committee following this exercise and the recommendations will then be subject to further community consultation."

A spokesperson for the council commented: "Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is not in position to comment until after the presentation made by Playboard NI has been considered by the council's Active and Healthy Communities Committee and ratified by full council."

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