‘It’s time to move on from Raymond McCreesh Park issue’ – Kimmins urges Unionists

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Friday, May 29th, 2015
Community, Politics
Sinn Féin Councillor Liz Kimmins has responded to claims that unionists are to once again raise the issue of Raymond McCreesh Park and that the SDLP are to support a changing of the name. The Newry councillor said it was well past time for unionist and SDLP councillors to respect the wishes of the people of Ballybot. “It’s not Sinn Féin’s concern what other parties are going to do. Our concern is our position and the position of the people this will affect,” she told Newry Times. raymond mccreesh park“The SDLP have displayed their trademark inconsistency on this issue, as they did with the marriage equality motion, as they did with the name of Gullion in the council and as they have done with countless other issues. “Our position has always been consistent. We, and the overwhelming majority of people from the Ballybot area, believe that the name of Raymond McCreesh Park should remain unchanged. “The Park was named in 2001 under the tutelage of a council dominated by unionists and the SDLP. Council procedure was fully followed and surveys taken by the Council indicated a clear support for the Raymond McCreesh name. “In the seven-year period from the naming of the park in 2001 until 2008, no unionist councillors, SDLP councillors or members of the public raised any concerns or complaints over the decision. “In 2008 the Newry District Loyal Orange Lodge, which is not located in the vicinity of the park, made a complaint,” she continued. “That complaint was investigated by the council and it found, after much deliberation, that the name should be retained. Since then there has been a very focused and nasty campaign to demonise this area and its community. LizKimmins“Unionist politicians have repeatedly used the park as a diversionary issue when they found themselves in the spotlight, particularly over the course of the disgraceful flag protest debacle. “In all the talk of community relations, at no point has anybody asked what the effect on community relations will be if the name of this park is changed against the clearly expressed wishes of the people. “Three times the people of Ballybot were surveyed on the name of the park and three times the response came back that they wanted the name to stay the same, each time with an increased majority. “The SDLP have obviously come to the conclusion that the borrowed unionist votes they rely on in South Down are more important than the wishes of the people the park was built for. Kimmins added, “It’s not Sinn Féin they will have to answer to for whatever decision they make on this issue, it’s the thousands upon thousands of people across this island who rightly regard Raymond McCreesh and his nine courageous comrades as heroes and martyrs. “The decision has been made. It’s time to move on and begin working on the many issues that now face the people of Newry, Mourne and Down rather than dragging up debates from the past.” More on this story: 1000 letters of support for Raymond McCreesh Park handed into Newry Council Irwin urges response on Newry play park ‘terrorist’ naming Row over contentious Newry play park rumbles on Equality Commission to investigate Newry Council decision over Raymond McCreesh Park Unionists outraged after Newry play park renaming
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