The SDLP have wasted the opportunity to stand up for a shared community, Alliance Councillor Andy McMurray has said, as he expressed disappointment after a motion to remove Raymond McCreesh’s name from a park in Newry failed.
Speaking after the latest meeting of South Down Council – in which three SDLP Councillors abstained on the issue – Councillor McMurray said the retention of the name only added to the hurt felt by victims and their families.
He added: “For Alliance, there is no other option than for the name of this park to be removed. The fact that other Councillors had this opportunity and chose not to take it is wrong. An opportunity to show leadership to both communities has been lost.
“Whether those in favour of the name accept it or not, this park can never be a shared community space while retaining the name of a convicted IRA terrorist. This is the second attempt the Council has had to stand up for everyone in the community, instead retreating along party political lines.
“I must question the actions of the SDLP, who have shown yet again their reluctance to stand against Sinn Féin on this issue, despite previous assurances that they would do what they could to remove the name.
“My thoughts are with anyone affected by the naming of this park. However, if we are sincere about a shared future then the association of a name to a common space, so overtly associated with one side of the conflict, cannot be considered as truly genuine to the ethos of reconciliation.”