Irwin wants answers from SDLP after contentious Newry playground renaming
Newry and Armagh MLA William Irwin has called on the SDLP Leader Alasdair McDonnell to state clearly whether he supports the actions of his party colleagues on Newry & Mourne Council who voted in favour of a playground being named after IRA hunger striker Raymond McCreesh.
As Newry Times reported yesterday, the name of Provisional IRA hunger striker, Camlough man Raymond McCreesh was voted for in Newry Council on Monday night, which caused outrage in local unionist circles.
In a vote that had gained widespread attention prior to the verdict, 20 nationalist councillors voted to uphold the decision to rename the Patrick Street play area ‘Raymond McCreesh Park’.
Five unionist councillors voted against it, (1 UKIP, 1 DUP and 3 UUP councillors) and local SDLP councillor Frank Feely abstained from the vote.
Speaking today to Newry Times, Irwin said, “Many people across Northern Ireland will traditionally have recognised the difference which existed between the SDLP and others who sought to justify, excuse and even honour those who engaged in terrorism in Northern Ireland.
“Unfortunately in recent weeks we have seen SDLP Councillors in Dungannon call for the release of a man convicted for the attempted murder of a Council colleague and now Newry & Mourne SDLP Councillors have backed the naming of a play park after IRA terrorist Raymond McCreesh.”
Irwin continued, “Some twisted republicans attempt to glorify McCreesh because of his terrorist activities and his participation in the IRA hunger strike.
“When he was caught he was in the act of setting up an ambush against police officers armed with a rifle used in the sectarian murder of 10 innocent workmen at Kingsmills.
“People living across Northern Ireland, but particularly in the Newry & Mourne area now deserve to know if this is also the stance of the SDLP.
“Alasdair McDonnell must step forward and state clearly whether the SDLP Councillors in Newry & Mourne who voted for this proposal will face any disciplinary action or whether they were acting with his full blessing as party leader.”
Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson also raised the issue at Northern Ireland Questions today in Parliament.
Speaking afterwards he said, “It is shameful that the SDLP joined in this action within Newry & Mourne Council which has caused great hurt, particularly to the families of those brutally murdered at Kingsmills.
“As a Party we will be following this issue up with the Equality Commission to see whether action can be taken, but the public also deserve to know clearly where the SDLP stands when it comes to the glorification of terrorism.”