The name blame: Newry SDLP and Sinn Fein at loggerheads over new Council name

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Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
Community, News, Politics
Newry Sinn Fein Councillors are at loggerheads with local SDLP Councillors over the new name selection for the Council. Newry, Mourne and Down District Council was the name chosen yesterday for the new Council but the choice angered local Sinn Fein members. Slieve Gullion area Sinn Féin Councillor Terry Hearty said that the exclusion of the entire south Armagh district from the new Council name would be viewed by most who lived there as ‘a very deliberate snub’. “All Sinn Féin elected representatives supported the Newry City, Mourne & Gullion proposal. We felt that this name reflected the entire region that we serve and also give recognition to Newry as the principal City. “There is no ryhme or reason as to why in particular the SDLP have deliberately snubbed our area,” Hearty blasted. His colleague Cllr Barra Ó Muirí said it was ‘a disgraceful decision’. “Those who live here, work here, invested in and promoted this area are rightly angry. South Armagh has once again been cast aside.” Meanwhile Cllr Mickey Larkin said that questions about how over £30,000 was spent to come up with a name which was the name that already existed would have to be asked. “This consultation exercise now seems a complete and utter waste of ratepayers money. From the outset it had been agreed that the one name that wouldn’t be put forward was the name given to the shadow Council, Newry Mourne & Down, the name that now has had been chosen by the majority SDLP and Unionist bloc.” Sinn Féin’s Roisin Mulgrew also voiced her anger. “Throughout all workshops it was recognised that investment in tourism was the most realistic way to generate employment and investment. “Gullion has been a success story in terms of tourism and our name included the two areas of outstanding beauty which the new council hoped to build on. The exclusion of an entire region of this new Council area has detached and isolated many who day and daily are working to ensure its well being and sustainability.” However, SDLP Group Leader on Newry, Mourne & Down District Council, Colin McGrath, welcomed the council’s selection of Newry, Mourne & Down District Council as its new name. He told Newry Times, “Firstly I welcome this name as it can be identified by all residents across our district as it is essentially the amalgamation of the two legacy council names. “There were a variety of names under consideration, some of which we had added to the list to allow a thorough examination of all alternatives, but the name had to be one that was agreeable to the majority of people. “We have all found through this process that people wanted a name that they can identify with, that easily sells the district’s tourist and economic strengthens and that didn’t discriminate against anyone or place within our new area,” he insisted. “The process undertaken by the appointed consultants was worthwhile in helping to identify alternatives, prompting robust discussion and consideration and enabling engagement with hundreds of people across the district. “This consultation process enabled consultants to test the names and public acceptance of them and the team will benefit us further in the future with the design and branding work they will undertake with this new name. He added, “The new council will come to life on the 1st of April this year, in a few short weeks, and now we have the name identified the SDLP group will be focusing on ensuring seamless service delivery, appropriate council structures to reflect and serve our community best and setting a rate that is fair, equitable and realistic for residents in these difficult economic times.”
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