DUP councillors: '˜We feel disgust at UUP vote on GAA park'

An open letter to Mike Nesbitt:

Thursday, 25th August 2016, 11:06 am
Updated Friday, 26th August 2016, 11:06 am
Co Antrim's Oisin Glenariffe club members have voted to remove a set of gates from the club entrance commemorating two IRA men who were killed in 1922. Picture by PressEye

We write as DUP members of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to express our deep concern and dismay at the decision of six Ulster Unionist Councillors to vote in favour of £180,000 of funding for a new community centre in a park used by Glenariffe Oisins GAA club and named after two IRA men.

As a result of these six members voting in favour, the proposal was passed by 19 votes to 18.

We are fully supportive of initiatives which are designed to improve community relations, but this particular project will have precisely the opposite effect.

Indeed, it has caused significant divisions of opinion both within the council and the community and it will inflame community tensions.

In addition, we have concerns about the robustness of council diligence in respect of the funding application.

Much has been made of the fact that the GAA club has decided to remove the gates which name the two IRA men.

However, this was not a pre-condition of the grant and the removal of the gates is of little relevance to the issue.

On the contrary, it is merely a red-herring, for the park itself is called the McAllister-McVeigh Memorial Park, so the issue is much greater than the gates.

We commend the three Ulster Unionist councillors who stood with us on this issue, but are frankly disgusted with the six who voted with Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance to support the funding package.

In light of your party’s wholly justifiable opposition to the naming of a children’s play park after a dead IRA terrorist in Newry, we would be interested in your views on your party’s support for a major development on a site named after two dead IRA terrorists in the Glens of Antrim.

John Finlay, Councillor, DUP group leader