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Pupils from seven Newry schools gathered at Our Lady’s Grammar School yesterday, meeting with political representatives to discuss the creation of a city park at the Albert Basin in Newry.

Newry High, Our Lady’s, Rathore, Sacred Heart, St Colman’s, St Joseph’s and St Mary’s were all represented and the pupils had many probing questions for the local politicians.

Pictured at an inter school meeting at Our Lady's Grammar School to discuss the campaign for a park for Newry with local political representatives. Front from left: Lee Edgar, Newry High School; Mark Crummy, St Colman's Grammar School; Ryan Bennet, St Joseph's High School; Aoife Hollywood, Our Lady's Grammar School; Courtney Keenan, St Mary's High School; Eva Grant, Sacred Heart Grammar School and Caitlyn Turley, Rathore School. Back: Cllr Charlie Casey, Conor Murphy, MLA; Debbie Brennan, Youth Action; Mrs McAllister, Vice Principal, Our Lady's; Brian Cleland, Newry 2020; Aisling McAteer, Youth Action; Justin McNulty, MLA; Rian McGarvey, Rathore School and Cllr Gary Stokes. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Pictured at an inter school meeting at Our Lady's Grammar School to discuss the campaign for a park for Newry with local political representatives. Front from left: Lee Edgar, Newry High School; Mark Crummy, St Colman's Grammar School; Ryan Bennet, St Joseph's High School; Aoife Hollywood, Our Lady's Grammar School; Courtney Keenan, St Mary's High School; Eva Grant, Sacred Heart Grammar School and Caitlyn Turley, Rathore School. Back: Cllr Charlie Casey, Conor Murphy, MLA; Debbie Brennan, Youth Action; Mrs McAllister, Vice Principal, Our Lady's; Brian Cleland, Newry 2020; Aisling McAteer, Youth Action; Justin McNulty, MLA; Rian McGarvey, Rathore School and Cllr Gary Stokes. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Many of the pupils explained what the park meant for them from improving mental and physical health, to somewhere to meet with friends, or somewhere to go without having to spend money.

One of the pupils spoke about her grandparent with high blood pressure who has to get driven to Warrenpoint to get a walk in a park, when a local facility would be much preferable.

It was pointed out that many parks don’t have good wheelchair access so a flat park in Newry with good wheelchair access would be a real benefit. Wheelchair swings were also mentioned.

Also mentioned were Parents with young families who don’t have their own transport. They really need a park locally as the only other option of trying to get a pram on a bus to go to Kilbroney or Slieve Gullion is difficult.

Commenting Conor Murphy MLA added “I think the work that has been done with the Greenway which will run from Carlingford to Portadown, coming past that site, the work done along the canal bank by the council, has really enhanced Newry and created a little more space for people to walk along the waterway. I think that’s all very encouraging, so I would be very optimistic that we will get a park fairly soon”

Brian Cleland from Newry 2020 answered questions on the layout of the proposed park as well as security and access to the site.

Speaking on the Albert Basin City Park at Our Lady's.  Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Speaking on the Albert Basin City Park at Our Lady's. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Cllr Charlie Casey commented  “The Albert Basin is a prime piece of real estate, over 13 acres, and there was a plan in 2004 to develop it, but for a variety of reasons it fell apart.”

Cllr Casey added “We would like to see a park plus, that’s my view, because there are ideal opportunities for other uses on it as well.

“The Capital programme is set in stone at £100M for the next four years. Albert Basin was ruled out as a site for a Civic Centre but nothing, I repeat nothing else has been ruled in or out for that site and won’t be for a year or two years.”

Speaking Justin McNulty, MLA said  “I would encourage all the young people here to make sure you sign the petition (for the park) and also continue the conversations at home around your fireplace or around your kitchen table, involve you parents, involve your families, just keep the momentum going

“This is such an ideal location for a city park, the access to water, the access to the city centre by foot, it’s a chance that should not be missed. It’s something that our future generations will thank us for, leave a legacy we can all be proud of. All political parties get behind this passionately and firmly build for the future”

You can sign the petition for a 15 Acre City Park at the Albert Basin or find out more about the project at albertbasinpark.org

 

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