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Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir

A Statement by Ogra Sinn Fein recently published on your site proclaimed their support to the children’s play park on Patrick Street to be named in honour of convicted terrorist Raymond McCreesh.

On behalf of the Newry & Armagh Young Unionists, and indeed the entire Ulster Young Unionist Council I wish to put our objection to that name on record.

Ogra Sinn Fein argue that other areas and features of our town bear the names of different historical figures, like the Albert Basin Park, thus the name McCreesh Park should remain. However, this greatly exaggerates the role McCreesh had in history, which was far from positive.

Raymond McCreesh Park. Photograph: NewRayPics.com
Raymond McCreesh Park. Photograph: NewRayPics.com

There is a claim that there has been a campaign to besmirch the name of Raymond McCreesh; that's not true. There is a campaign however to whitewash exactly what he “volunteered” for. He volunteered to join a terrorist campaign, a campaign that bombed town centres killing and maiming civilians, that kidnapped civilians and forced them to become suicide bombers, that stopped a bus on a winter’s night and shot the Protestants on board. Are these the actions of a man of great conviction? Are they not examples of ruthless and barbaric oppression? Is this the example we want to set for our children?

When ratepayers money was used to glorify McCreesh this way it caused a great deal of hurt in the Unionist community. But the continued campaigning causes greater pain because it's a declaration from Sinn Fein and other sections of our city that they don't care about the minority in our city; the pain they feel, the fact that Protestants are simply not welcome here.

This is a much greater issue than how we remember our past. It's about how we treat the living and what messages we want our city to send to those who live and work here, and what message we send to the wider world.

McCreesh was arrested and had one of the weapons used in the Kingsmills Massacre in his possession. We would therefore like to ask Ogra Sinn Fein one simple question: do they condemn the slaughter of ten innocent, unarmed people?

Despite saying on this website that they want to improve community relations with Unionists, their former MP Barry McElduff certainly did not do so when he mocked the victims of that massacre only a few months ago, and Ogra Sinn Fein are not showing any now towards the victim’s families and surviving victim.

We have yet to see an ounce of respect, equality or integrity from Sinn Fein on this issue. If they really have changed their aim to promoting community cohesion with Unionists, they have a disastrous way of showing it.

Newry is a wonderful town full of culture and heritage. If Sinn Fein were serious about respect, equality and integrity, they would join Unionists in naming the park after something that did not intentionally cause offence to anyone in the community.

Of course, this is only if Sinn Fein actually want to show respect, equality and integrity.

Joshua Lowry, Chairman Ulster Young Unionist Council

Link to Ogra Sinn Fein Letter www.newry.ie

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