The closure locally yesterday of all council run forest and country parks has caused dismay locally.

It is a different approach from that of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnston who last night stated "Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed." 

Several readers spoke of their annoyance at the council decision with one lady saying " So disappointed with this decision! As an older person I find Kilbroney a place where I feel really safe to walk! My husband and I walked there yesterday morning and met about 7 people in all, mostly older people. Where now?"

Another commented "It's really sad to see Kilbroney shut. There is no one coming within 2 (or most of the time even 22) metres of anyone else in Kilbroney. Shame it came to this"

Kilbroney, Rostrevor. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Kilbroney, Rostrevor. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

We asked Newry, Mourne and Down Council today if the council would change their plans to close all council run parks in the light of the Prime Ministers announcement but in their reply they reiterated their decision to close, citing PHA guidance and the lack of council staff at the sites and they have asked members of the public not to try to enter these locations.

Parks closed include Slieve Gullion and Kilbroney Forest Parks.

A council spokesperson said “As of Monday 23 March Newry, Mourne and Down District Council closed all council operated forest and country parks plus beach facilities with immediate effect.

"We ask that members of the public do not visit or try to enter these sites. The decision to close these facilities was carefully considered in line with Public Health Agency Northern Ireland guidance on the need for everyone to strictly adhere to Social Distancing measures in all public places at this time.

"Council staff will not be available at these sites and members of the public may put themselves at risk by entering these sites of their own accord.

"Other outdoor recreation and civic spaces that the Council maintain such as Newcastle Promenade, Newcastle that are not normally staffed by Council employees will continue to remain open.”

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