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‘Council must commit to real community consultation’ - Kimmins

1 March, 2019 - by Elizabeth Kimmons

Newry Sinn Fein Councillor, Liz Kimmins, has supported the challenge taken by her party colleague, Sinn Fein Group Leader on Newry, Mourne & Down District Council, Michael Ruane, to force the Council to commit to a genuine process of consultation with people in Ballybot on the future of Raymond McCreesh Park.

Councillor Kimmins said: “The decision by SDLP and Unionist councillors to fast track the disposal of Raymond McCreesh Park without consultation with the local community was challenged by Sinn Fein at the time as a purely political decision.

“Our positon has been reinforced by the fact that Council has agreed on a number of occasions since then, to delay the disposal of other assets to allow community consultation to take place. The fact that they still refuse to listen to the people of Ballybot has prompted one local resident to seek a Judicial Review.

“We are now aware that Council has recently received legal advice that, contrary to the position taken by the SDLP and Unionists, there is a requirement to consult with the community on the future of Raymond McCreesh Park.  Officials have now brought forward a proposal to do this but without any detail on the nature or timing of this exercise.  Our group leader, Cllr Michael Ruane, has asked that the legal advice be shared with councillors and that a clear proposition for community consultation be put before the Council for decision.  Despite repeated requests Council officials have refused to do so leaving us no option but to legally challenge this failure.

“Councillors are entitled to access to documents which will inform our decision making and the community are entitled to know when and how they will be consulted on the future of a facility that has served them for generations.  Sinn Fein will defend the rights of the residents of Ballybot and not allow them to be denied by the Council.”

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