A collective group of DUP, UUP and one independent councillor put forward a motion to be heard at tonight’s monthly meeting of the Newry, Mourne and Down Council.
Councillors Henry Reilly, David Taylor, William Walker, Jill Macauley, Garth Craig, Glyn Hanna, Robert Burgess and Harry Harvey had hoped to receive backing from SDLP to see the children’s facility reverts to its original name ‘Patrick Street play park’.
However, the SDLP backed Sinn Fein’s call for a delay to any potential name change pending a review later this year.
Prior to the meeting Sinn Fein MP MP Mickey Brady appealed to the council to respect the view of the “overwhelming majority of the residents of Ballybot” and keep the name, stating that the motion was just “a deliberate attempt to stir community tensions”.
Unionists had hoped for a change this evening but they were out-voted by their nationalist counterparts.
There were some angry exchanges as unionists left the council chamber.
UUP councillor, David Taylor, said he was “angry” the issue had been rejected.
He said, “It would appear a narrow sectarian mindset prevails amongst republican and nationalist representatives who clearly do not want to deal with the issue.
“My thoughts first and foremost are with the innocent victims of republican violence who have to bear further pain and trauma as a consequence of this decision.
“Unionist councillors will continue to persevere to bring this matter to a successful conclusion and to ensure that the deplorable situation where a public park is named after a convicted terrorist is resolved sooner rather than later.”
The park was named after Raymond McCreesh in 2001.