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SDLP's opposition to honouring David Healey described as mean spirited and petty minded

30 September, 2005

South Down Assembly Member Caitríona Ruane has described the SDLP's Cllr Margaret Ritchie's opposition to a proposal to name a Council playing field in Killyleagh after local soccer star David Healey as 'mean spirited and petty minded'. Cllr Ritchie made clear her opposition to the proposal on Friday's edition of Radio Ulster's Steven Nolan Show.

Ms Ruane said:

"I can see no reason why any political party would oppose this proposal and Cllr Ritchie's view that the renaming of a play park after David Healey would in someway impact on the 'neutrality' of a council owned facility makes little or no sense.

"The exploits of David Healey and his footballing colleagues brought joy to many people and undoubtedly he is an excellent role model, particularly for young people. Indeed if his winning goal against England encourages kids to participate more in sport then he deserves this type of recognition which should not be used as a political football.

"And whilst the Republic of Ireland soccer team would be supported by the vast majority of nationalists in the north there is an obligation on Down District Council to recognise cultural and sporting diversity. Cllr Ritchie's comments reflect a reactionary type of nationalism that is often mirrored by the DUP. If she is really concerned about neutral venues then her time would be better spent ensuring the dozens of Loyalist flags and emblems are removed from the Council owned Langley Road Playing Fields in Ballynahinch. ENDS

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