Newry Identity Campaign gains further momentum
Chairperson of the Newry Identity Campaign (NIC) and Sinn Féin MLA for Newry and Armagh, Mickey Brady has said that he was encouraged by the response from the people of Newry at the organisation's first public meeting. The meeting which took place in the Canal Court Hotel on Wednesday 10th was attended by community and sporting groups, businessmen and women, concerned residents and politicians of different political persuasions.
Sinn Féin Mayor of Newry and Mourne Council, Colman Burns chaired the event which featured a comprehensive breakdown of the boundary commission's proposals and the suggested solution by NIC's Ruairí Vallely. Mickey Brady then gave an overview of the aims and objectives of the campaign and how he proposes that the Newry Identity be maintained.
The aims outlined were:
- The creation of a boundary, recognised by the Local Government Boundary commission, for Newry that includes all of our urban areas.
- The creation of a single Newry electoral area that will allow Newry people to elect councillors from Newry that can best represent the interests of all our people.
- Newry has an electorate of over 15 and a half thousand people within its natural boundary area. We deserve representation on the same basis as every other large urban centre.
- The creation of Electoral ward names that reflect the local identities of the areas that they represent.
Mickey Brady said:
"The proposals we presented on Wednesday night encompassed all of these demands while fulfilling the criteria that the local government boundary commissioner was given. They included a proposal to create 6 urban wards with a solely Newry focus.
"The proposals that NIC are making are intended to be a basis for discussion and as a sensible starting point for the debate around Newry's current identity and future development. Almost a thousand Newry people made submissions to the local government boundary commissioner and this highlights the interest on this topic in the Newry area.
"If the boundary commission's proposals go ahead, large parts of this urban area including the entire Dublin Road, large parts of the Belfast Road, Armagh Road, Warrenpoint Road, Quayside Close and Drumalane will be left outside of the boundaries of Newry and will be placed into rural areas in South Armagh and South Down.
"Acting now is crucial in ensuring that Newry gets the best deal out of the commissioner. The assistant commissioners are currently drafting their first set of amendments to their original proposals. Therefore NIC decided that this was the best time to come forward with a series of sensible suggestions for the assistant commissioners, but what is equally key at this time is to provide options for the second commission which will sit in June of next year.
"There has been some confusing remarks made by other local representatives regarding the role and remit of both of these commissions so I would like, on behalf on NIC, to clarify this and to ensure that the future of Newry and our identity is not diluted simply to appease anyone's narrow political agenda. This is an issue that will affect everyone in Newry so let's start the debate and lets do what's best for Newry now and lets have the vision to do what's best for Newry in the future."
Mr Brady added:
"The meeting was extremely encouraging; it was great to see such a wide range of people united to defend Newry's identity. I think everyone in the room was in agreement that the boundary commission's proposals cannot go ahead as they stand because if they are enforced, the Newry that we know will be completely broken up. Mr. Brady concluded by making an appeal for support,
"As a proud Newry native I am asking the people of Newry to support N.I.C in our campaign to maintain the Newry identity and to prevent large sections of its urban metropolitan area from being taken away and included in rural areas with little connection to our urban identity. It is for the benefit of us all: community groups, businesses, sports clubs and citizens to remain as a single entity." ENDS