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EVENTS NEWRY

Brigid O'Neill @ Nan Rices Folk Club

Brigid O'Neill @ Nan Rices Folk Club

07-12-2021 8:00 pm -11:00 pm
£10.00
Railway Bar Trad Session

Railway Bar Trad Session

09-12-2021 9:00 pm - 30-11--0001
All Folk'd Up

All Folk'd Up

11-12-2021 8:00 pm -11:55 pm
£15.00
The Mudblood Podcast - LIVE!

The Mudblood Podcast - LIVE!

14-12-2021 7:00 pm -10:00 pm
£12.00
Railway Bar Trad Session

Railway Bar Trad Session

16-12-2021 9:00 pm - 30-11--0001
Fight for Alfie Christmas Spectacular

Fight for Alfie Christmas Spectacular

18-12-2021 1:00 pm -5:00 pm
£20.00
The Snowman Christmas Special

The Snowman Christmas Special

18-12-2021 2:00 pm -4:30 pm
£10.00
The Snowman Christmas Special

The Snowman Christmas Special

18-12-2021 5:30 pm -8:00 pm
£10.00
Fight for Alfie Christmas Spectacular

Fight for Alfie Christmas Spectacular

19-12-2021 1:00 pm -5:00 pm
£20.00
The Snowman Christmas Special

The Snowman Christmas Special

19-12-2021 2:00 pm -4:30 pm
£10.00
The Snowman Christmas Special

The Snowman Christmas Special

19-12-2021 5:30 pm -8:00 pm
£10.00
Hilltown Farmers Market

Hilltown Farmers Market

02-01-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

29-01-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Hilltown Farmers Market

Hilltown Farmers Market

06-02-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Hilltown Farmers Market

Hilltown Farmers Market

06-03-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Foster and Allen

Foster and Allen

16-03-2022 8:00 pm -10:30 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

26-03-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Hilltown Farmers Market

Hilltown Farmers Market

03-04-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

30-04-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Hilltown Farmers Market

Hilltown Farmers Market

01-05-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

28-05-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Hilltown Farmers Market

Hilltown Farmers Market

05-06-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

25-06-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Hilltown Farmers Market

Hilltown Farmers Market

03-07-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

30-07-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Iúr Cinn Fleadh

Iúr Cinn Fleadh

25-08-2022 2:00 pm -11:55 pm
Iúr Cinn Fleadh

Iúr Cinn Fleadh

26-08-2022 2:00 pm -11:55 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

27-08-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Iúr Cinn Fleadh

Iúr Cinn Fleadh

27-08-2022 2:00 pm -11:55 pm
Iúr Cinn Fleadh

Iúr Cinn Fleadh

28-08-2022 2:00 pm -11:55 pm
Iúr Cinn Fleadh

Iúr Cinn Fleadh

29-08-2022 2:00 pm -11:55 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

24-09-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

29-10-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

26-11-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
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Helena McSherry with Pierce and Emily Niblock at the Park Rally. Pierce (5) was at a rally for the park five years ago - Will he have to be at one when he is Ten? Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
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Hundreds turned out at Saturday's Unite the Union - Albert Basin Park Rally to register their anger at the lack of progress on the 15 acre park that was promised for the Albert Basin in Newry, back in 2017 ... and indeed many years earlier. It was the first large scale public protest concerning the park.
Ronan Turley, Unite the Union, one of the speakers at the Albert Basin Park Rally. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Ronan Turley, Unite the Union, one of the speakers at the Albert Basin Park Rally. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

A Coven of witches courtesy of Sticky Fingers entertained the crowd and their cauldron wasn't the only thing that was heating up, with speaker after speaker demanding that Newry's long awaited park be delivered asap.

Speakers included: Ronan Turley, Unite the Union; Helena McSherry; David Nolan, INTO; Grainne Powell, Sticky Fingers; Brian Cleland, Newry 2020; Cllr Gavin Malone and Cllr Patrick Brown.

The speakers spoke passionately about the urgent need for this park for Newry, especially for children and young people. Speakers also spoke of numerous obstacles that have appeared from Council, since the 2017 decision was taken. One councillor even felt the need to explain that everything that he was saying was on public record and could be verified.

Party Politics

Ronan Turley, representing the organisers Unite the Union spoke of what he believed was a blockage preventing the project. Turley said "Not only is Newry lacking this but there is also an artificial blockage preventing the speedy development of the basin park. This blockage in our opinion is down to party politics in our Council Chamber. People of Newry want a world class park and want it delivered in a timely manner. For too long the development of the park has been kicked into the long grass. It is time our elected members listened to the will of the people. We all must remember this by using the power of our vote."

Brian Cleland, Newry 2020 speaking at the Park Rally. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Brian Cleland, Newry 2020 speaking at the Park Rally. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Endorsing Council workers need for new premises Turley added "We know that they need a new office that is fit for purpose. We are not here trying to stop the building of a much needed new workplace. We are here to call for a dual approach of the development of the Albert Basin Park and the Civic Centre."

1986

Speaker Brian Cleland from Newry 2020 and the Albert Basin Park Project explained how many years ago, a public amenity, ie a park was mooted for the site!

"People ask us when the campaign for a park started. Well, actually, it started over 40 years ago, in the 1970s, when the liquidator took over the Albert Basin and Canal from the old Newry Navigation Company. Back in the 1970's people were demanding a park on the Albert Basin. In 1986 the liquidator sold the canal and Albert Basin to the council for £1." he explained.

Cleland continued "We have a video of that event, and the liquidator says on that video that he is giving the Basin to the people of Newry - not to the Council - to the people! And they also state on that video that it will be developed as a public amenity - in other words, a park! That was 1986, over 30 years ago. And yet for generations, people in this city have grown up without a park to enjoy."

Our Children are Not Second Class Citizens

Grainne Powell, Sticky Fingers speaking at the Rally. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Grainne Powell, Sticky Fingers speaking at the Rally. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Grainne Powell, Sticky Fingers spoke of the economic benefits of a new park, and how Slieve Gullion and Kilbroney have transformed the area bringing tourism and employment, but explained "what we really need to focus on is our children and young people. Newry has the highest population of children and young people in the whole of Northern Ireland. We also have the highest levels of child poverty and one of the highest rates of youth suicide and mental health problems. Before the pandemic we were at crisis point with our children and young people. Play deprivation was at an all time high. If children don't have access to play they don't reach their developmental milestones and it has a knock-on effect and it impacts them on their whole life journey and what they can achieve. It impacts on how they can build relationships, how they achieve academically and how they deal with emotional stress that modern life brings. It is ESSENTIAL to young children to play. I cannot stress how important it is."

"Newry has lagged behind for so long. We've known that. Anybody who grew up in this town knew - Aw well ... we don't have what Belfast and Derry have but we'll make do. Well I think it's time we stopped making do. Our children are not second class citizens.

"The question is not when are we going to build a park. The question is why have we not already got a park?"

Such a Benefit

Helena McSherry speaking at the park rally. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Helena McSherry speaking at the park rally. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Helena McSherry speaking in an individual capacity spoke of a family member that as a new born was at a park protest. McSherry said "Pierce who is turning five on Thursday. Guess what - His first protest was five years ago regarding this park. Will we have to wait till he is ten to see a delivery of a park? - Absolutely no! In education we know the benefits of a safe green area for our children

"We have seen at first hand the devastation of the last 18 months. Our community would have benefited so much if we had a park. What a benefit to every single person in this area at this present moment."

A Matter of Public Record

Cllr Patrick Brown who was the original proposer of the Council Motion for the park in 2017 spoke at length on the happenings at Council Meetings, adding "I want to make clear that everything I say is a matter of public record and is verifiable through council papers, minutes and audio recordings. I say that because I know there has been a concerted attempt on the part of some parties to misrepresent what I have to say on this issue in order to confuse the public and push out false counter narratives. So, before any of them accuse me again of spreading ‘fake news’ as is often their tactic, everything I say, I can back it up."

Cllr Patrick Brown speaking at the park protest. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Cllr Patrick Brown speaking at the park protest. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Brown speaking about this years Public Consultation on the Newry City Centre Regeneration project said "the consultation was the most successful in this council’s history, with over 1500 responses and over 6000 individual comments. And trust me, it took a while to go through them. But one thing was abundantly, undeniably clear from that consultation. The people of this district did not want their money going towards new council offices. And they wanted a park.

The Rowallane Councillor added "How did the other parties and management respond to this clear demand from the people? They rubbished it. They said that the consultation was like the Brexit vote, that people didn’t know what they were responding to because of a campaign of negativity and 'fake news' on social media. They said that people only respond to consultations when they have something negative to say, and that the number of respondents wasn’t actually that big or representative. They went completely out of their way to gaslight, undermine and disregard the results of the public consultation, because it went against their narrative. After the results came out what did they decide to do? They pressed on with approving the outline business case for the civic centre project, adding an extra £8m to the budget and and agreed to ‘further engage’ with key stakeholders. Which basically means keep trying until they get the answer they want to hear."

"I have to say, that really annoyed me. To see the cynicism and complete disregard shown to the clearly expressed will of the people - the vast majority of which demanded a park over the civic centre. They clearly were not willing to listen to the people. Well I hope they are listening now." Brown said.

Where the Power Lies

David Nolan INTO, speaking at the Park Rally. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
David Nolan INTO, speaking at the Park Rally. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

To a Chant of 'No Park No Vote' David Nolan INTO explained where the power lay "We are here to protest for something that we should already have"

"Just remember where the power lies - It lies with every one of you. When your elected representative lands at your door with a sickly smile looking for your vote, what will they hear?"

Public Pressure

Cllr Gavin Malone also endorsed this sentiment saying that public pressure was responsible for a recent application for funding for the project. Malone said "Recently our Council applied for £16M of funding. The reality was that that money was applied for due to public pressure from every person here. What I'm saying is pile the pressure on to the social media, Twitter, newspapers, Councillors, MLA's, MP, wherever necessary. We want a park, it has to come and the time for talking is over, it's time for action."

Parks Do Not Take Eight Years to Build

Grainne Powell urging all to come together to make the park happen said "Please, let's leave politics behind, let's put our politics to one side and let's come together as one community and if we don't do it for our children, do it for each other and do it for ourselves because our children are not second class citizens and they deserve better.

"The timescales are absolutely ridiculous, I for one have experience in making parks. I have developed Slieve Gullion, I created Naria. I created parks in Dundalk, Donegal and everywhere else, and they do not take eight years to build. That's a fact. So to come at this stage and be told after campaigning for nearly ten years that there's still no Business Case in place is absolutely unacceptable" added Powell.

No Access to Open Green Spaces

Cllr Gavin Malone speaking at the rally. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Cllr Gavin Malone speaking at the rally. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Speaking on the need for open green space Brian Cleland said "Newry is the only city in Ireland that doesn't have a park. It's probably the only city in Europe that doesn't have a park.

"As a consequence, the mental and physical health of our community is at serious risk. There are thousands of studies that show that a lack of access to green space is detrimental to peoples' wellbeing. In fact, 1 in 3 households in Newry has no access to a car. In disadvantaged parts of the city, 1 in 2 households are without a car. The people that need it the most have no access to green space!

"In the middle of a pandemic, when people are dying because their basic level of health is insufficient to protect them from a virus, our community has no access to healthy open green space."

Parks Regenerate Cities

Cleland continued "And there's an irony here, because our council are saying they want to prioritise economic regeneration. Well, guess what regenerates cities? Parks and high quality public spaces. Investors invest in cities with attractive public spaces. It's not just common sense, its a proven fact. Tourists and shoppers visit attractive public spaces. Businesses KNOW that. Some of our greatest supporters have been the local businesses, because they know that attracting thousands of people to this town every week - just like Slieve Gulllion park and Kilbroney park attract thousands to those areas - will benefit their businesses.

"So it will benefit the people who live here, it will make their lives better and longer, and it will benefit our businesses. There is no question about that. The Newry people know this. They've known it for decades."

Proposals

Cllr Patrick Brown explained how Cllr Gavin Malone, Cllr Jarlath Tinnelly and himself had made two proposals at recent Council meetings demanding that council take £10.6m out of the civic centre budget and put it towards the park but both attempts failed.

"When we tried to do that we were hit with all sorts of excuses, attacks on our character and indeed threats that what we were doing was illegal or against the code of conduct. This is despite receiving legal advice in the very same meeting that what we were doing was legal. We were told the park couldn’t have any capital funding set aside because there wasn’t a business case for it. Despite the fact that the lack of a business case for the park after 4 years is shocking, over £34m was set aside for the regeneration project before the business case was signed off!

"We were told we couldn’t re-profile the money because it is tied to funding from the city deal. That was a misrepresentation at best and most likely a lie - we now know from asking City deal managers that money can be reprofilled, and we also know that not a penny of the £8m being given towards this project by the city deal is going to be spent on the civic centre itself. Those council offices are going to be funded entirely by you as ratepayers. And by the way, to put into perspective the total amount the council currently plans to spend itself on this project, around £35m, that’s 70% on your rates over the period we pay for it. By comparison do you know how much is currently set aside for the park? £150k"

The Vision

Even the Cartoon characters want a park. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Even the Cartoon characters want a park. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Explaining the Newry 2020 park campaign Brian Cleland said "Our own group, Newry 2020, started in 2013, based on a post on Newry.ie that asked what our town might look like in 2020 if we worked to make it better. And the number one item on that list was a park. And the vision grew and grew, in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017. By 2017 we had over 11.5k signatures, over 85 local organisations formally backing the campaign for a park, including community groups, sporting groups, schools, GP practices.

"I want to take a moment to emphasise the scale of the community effort that has taken place, leading up to 2017 and since then. We are talking about hundreds of people, not just the dozen or so people that constitute Newry 2020, hundreds of people in a wider community network spending thousands of hours of their time, giving their time freely to make this project happen. We are talking about a network of professionals of the highest calibre, architects, planners, designers, researchers, business consultants, people with decades of experience giving their time freely to make this project happen. Simply because they believe in this vision, and they believe that Newry deserves a park.

"It's an incredible effort. Professionals have told us they have NEVER seen ANY public project that has the level of community engagement and support that this project has.

Cooking up a protest at Marcus Square. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Cooking up a protest at Marcus Square. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Council Fought Tooth and Nail

Cleland continued "And what has the council done in that time? - Well the council has fought us tooth and nail. It's important for people to understand what has really been going on behind the scenes. Initially they wouldn't discuss it with us, and then once they realised the conversation wasn't going away, they said well you can't have 15 acres, you can have a few acres. And then they realised that wasn't going to fly, so they produced an edited version of an old contamination report and they told councillors the report said the site wasn't suitable for a park. Unfortunately for them, we had a copy of the report and were able to prove that it said the opposite of what they were claiming. And then they tried to stop the motion coming to council by sending it back to committee, and taking it off meeting agendas. They did everything they could to stop this project succeeding. But eventually we succeeded in November 2017 in getting a unanimous vote passed to build a 15 acre park on the Albert Basin.

"And what has happened since then? - Well they have spent a huge amount of public money, well-over £100k of public money to date, doing absolutely nothing of merit. We have had four years of effectively zero progress. Last year they attempted to seal the site off to developers for shops and housing. When that blew up in their faces, they tried to persuade the councillors to put the car parking for the new council offices on the Basin. When that didn't work, they paid consultants to claim that building a park on the Basin will take over 13 years and cost over £30m.

"To give you an example of how crazy that is, there is a public park being built in Scotland on reclaimed land, same as the Albert Basin, Auldcathie District Park. The first 40 acres will be completed this year. And the remaining 45 acres by next year. So that's a total of 85 acres in 4 years. Total cost of £6m for 85acres. And our council is claiming that 15 acres is going to cost £30m, So we asked to see the costs breakdown, but they are refusing to share them with the public."

"So what do we have to show for all this ratepayers money being spent? - Well after 4 years, we have no capital budget allocated, no business case even started. no project team in place. We don't even have a timeline for delivery! Think about that! Four years in, councillors have been telling us they have been working away, and we don't even have a start date, never mind a finish date!" concluded Cleland.

£16M Application for Funding result of Campaigner Pressure

Visitors to the park rally at Marcus Square. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Visitors to the park rally at Marcus Square. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

All hope is not lost though. A recent application for £16M has been made by Council and speakers were in no doubt that it was public pressure that caused this. Cllr Brown said "There is no doubt that this recent flurry of funding announcements, press statements and leaflets we’ve seen over the last 2 weeks is a direct result of the work of local campaigners to apply pressure to the decision makers in council. Governments only change direction when they are made to feel uncomfortable. Gavin and I have used our powers of protest in the chamber and have been met with contempt. But now suddenly, thanks to you, we are starting to see some progress

"You made that happen. This event today made that happen. But funding bids alone do not build a park. The council needs to back them up with clear, swift action to restore trust and confidence and it needs to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to the park.

Are You Ready for a Park

Concluding Brown added "But some councillors still say Newry isn’t ready for a park. Some say building a park would be like giving the keys of a new car to a 5-year-old, because they simply aren’t ready for it. Well let me ask you Newry, are you ready for a park?

"Are you ready for a world class, 15 acre park? With the best skatepark in Northern Ireland? A brand new marina and a lifting bridge, that will restore Newry’s maritime heritage? A place that will truly regenerate this city and improve the health and wellbeing of its residents?

"All the pressure you have applied up to now and here today is what will deliver a park. It won’t be politicians or any one political party, it won’t be council management. It will be the community who deliver a people’s park at the Albert Basin. Together we can make that happen. We are ready."

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