News

McCreesh rally is ‘wrong’, says Irwin

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

A RALLY to be held to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Raymond McCreesh Park is "wrong", according to the DUP MLA for Newry and Armagh.

William Irwin's comments come as Saoradh announced details of a commemoration for the hunger striker to be held in Raymond McCreesh Park this Sunday.

In June 1976 McCreesh was one of four IRA men arrested while launching an attack on any Army observation post at Belleeks. He was later given 14 years for attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, possession of firearms and IRA membership.

He and three accomplices were carrying four weapons used in the Kingsmills Massacre five months previously. The atrocity saw 10 Protestants pulled out of their work minibus by the IRA and shot dead. Raymond McCreesh died after 61 days on hunger strike on 21 May 1981, pressing for recognition as a political prisoner.

Saoradh An Iúir spokesperson Stephen Murney said the organisation would be remembering McCreesh "in a dignified and fitting fashion".

"[There is] no better place to have this event than in the heart of the community who hold him in such high esteem," Mr Murney said.

"That's the reason we have decided to hold this event in Ray McCreesh Park. We fully support the Barcroft and Ballybot communities in their campaign to retain the right to name this park after Raymond.

"Ray McCreesh was a revolutionary IRA volunteer, a warrior and hero. He made a massive sacrifice and suffered for us all in an unimaginable way. For that we are eternally grateful and its a proud thing to have this park in Newry named in honour of his memory.

"We want to thank the local community of Barcroft and Ballybot for supporting us with this initiative and we invite everyone to come along and join us on the day.

"We assemble at Ray McCreesh Park on Sunday, May 20, at 2pm."

Mr Irwin, commenting on the rally, said, "The issue of the naming of the Play Park after a member of a terrorist organisation that was responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocent people was wrong and remains a significant and damaging wrong."

He added, "Having a rally in support of Raymond McCreesh is also wrong and no terrorist should be lauded or eulogised in any way. The effect of such eulogising is to show to an audience that such illegality is permissible and something to be proud of when the reality could not be more different.

"Equally concerning is the fact that this will be held in the actual play park. Hosting such a rally on Council property in a children's play area, really is unacceptable and indeed offensive and this should be prevented by Newry Mourne and Down Council.

"The council as a corporate body has a huge responsibility in this regard and they must act decisively to prevent this space being used for anything other than kids enjoyment."

We asked Newry, Mourne and Down District Council if permission had been requested or granted for the holding of the event.

A spokesperson for the council said: "Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is not aware of this upcoming event."

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