Northern Ireland news

Newry pensioner challenges council decision to sell off Raymond McCreesh play park

A legal challenge has been launched over a council decision to sell off Raymond McCreesh park
Connla Young

A CO Down pensioner has launched a legal challenge over a council decision to sell off a play park named after hunger striker Raymond McCreesh.

The resident is seeking a judicial review of a decision by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to dispose of the controversial site in Newry.

The council has said it is “surplus to requirements".

Unionists were bitterly opposed to the naming of the play park in memory of the IRA man, who died during the 1981 hunger strike after 61 days without food.

Originally called Patrick Street Play Park, it was renamed in 2001.

Other public bodies will now be offered first refusal on the site under what is known as a D1 process.

It is understood the naming of the park will be a matter for any new owner.

The judicial review is being taken by a long-term Newry resident, who lives close to the park and claims the local community was not properly consulted about the council’s decision.

She claims the play park is “now particularly important to the local community”.

She also argues that several landmark sites in the Newry area have been named after figures from the unionist tradition, including Queen Victoria.

The woman’s legal representative, Gavin Booth of Phoenix Law, also claimed there was a lack of consultation.

“Newry, Mourne and Down District Council have initiated the D1 process without proper community consultation,” he said.

“It’s our client’s case that the council have not abided by fair procedures in taking the decision to dispose of Raymond McCreesh Park.

“As such our client has now commenced proceedings to ensure that the council acts in accordance with the law, irrespective of the wider political considerations.”

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