The possibility of a 15 acre people's park for Newry has taken a major step forward, thanks to a motion being put forward by four Newry, Mourne and Down Councillor's at the 2 October full council meeting in Downpatrick.

It's now up to all councillors from across the district to decide on the project, one that's supported by over 80 local groups, the majority of local schools and medical practices and over 11,000 individuals who added their names to a Newry 2020 Petition.

Enjoying a picnic at the entrance to the proposed park site at the Albert Basin. If councillors support the motion proposed the site could soon be the location for a 15 acre city park.
Enjoying a picnic at the entrance to the proposed park site at the Albert Basin. If councillors support the motion proposed the site could soon be the location for a 15 acre city park.

The motion calls for the council to confirm its commitment to to a full 15 acre community park project on the Albert Basin and calls for a task and finish group to be set up within three months to move the project forward.

Newry 2020 and other groups have been campaigning for several years for a 15 acre park at the derelict council owned Albert Basin site in Newry.

The motion proposed by Cllr Patrick Brown is seconded by Cllr Gary Stokes and supported by Cllrs Jarlath Tinnelly and David Taylor.

Support the People's demand for a city park

When the motion reaches council on 2 October representatives will have the opportunity to make the vision a reality. Some supporters fear that the council may use stalling tactics, possibly sending it to committee which could delay a decision, but campaigners hope that the parties will do what they have promised to do and support the people's demand for a city park in Newry.

Councillors in Support

Speaking to Newry.ie, Cllr Patrick Brown said "I’m delighted to have the opportunity to propose this motion. If implemented properly a 15-acre community-led park on the Albert Basin site has the potential to transform the centre of Newry, contribute to economic regeneration, boost tourism and build a stronger, healthier community.

"My involvement in this motion has come about as a result of the excellent case put forward for a park by Newry 2020, a fantastic group of community leaders who have been campaigning for years to get this project off the ground. In the park project I saw an opportunity for the Council, and Councillors, to play a leading role in giving something back to the ratepayer beyond the standard Council services.

Commenting on what he sees as a community/ council led project Cllr Brown added "People often ask what their Council does for them and so I want to be able to help deliver a tangible, large-scale project that’s of benefit to everyone in the District. We have already secured cross-party and cross-community support for this project, with Alliance, SDLP, UUP and independent Councillors signing the motion. I really hope that all elected representatives will get behind this motion, the passing of which will be the first step in a partnership project between Council and the Community to deliver the Park."

Cllr Gary Stokes spoke of the many people who have been calling for a city park for years "Having canvassed the streets of Newry for many years and over many elections the loudest call I have heard is for a proper city park for Newry. While people recognise the quality of Kilbroney and Slieve Gullion
parks they ask why can we not have a park we don't have to drive to."

Cllr Stokes added "World cities are defined by their city parks whether it be New York or Dublin. The benefits to local people will be huge. It will improve health and well
being. It will act as an economic driver, people to work and invest in pleasant areas. The site is perfect being in a central location between the canal and river and is already in council ownership."

Commenting on his support for the park Cllr David Taylor added "There is clearly strong support within the local community for the creation of a public park and I believe it will serve as a considerable asset to the City of Newry and indeed the wider district.

"I sincerely hope the Council can move forward at the earliest opportunity with progressing this important project and I trust all elected members can offer their support to the motion due to be presented. The creation of this recreational space would obviously be a positive and exciting development for the local area."

Expressing his endorsement of the park Cllr Jarlath Tinnelly added "There is no other site within the city, currently in the ownership of the council that is more appropriate for a People's Park"

Albert Basin owned by people of Newry

Newry 2020 Chair Brian Cleland spoke of the groups excitement that the park campaign is finally being considered by council

"30 years after we were first promised it, and after years of campaigning by local groups, a proper city park for Newry is finally within reach

"We in Newry 2020 are very excited that a motion in support of a city park at the Albert Basin will be going to council. The Albert Basin was given to the people of Newry over 30 years ago, and the council promised at that time to develop it as a "recreation and amenity area". Now, with almost 11,000 petition signatures and the support of over 80 local organisations, a proposal for healthy, shared, open space will finally be considered. The Albert Basin Park campaign has received expressions of support from every party in the council, and we hope that our representatives will be as good as their word and support this historic motion."

The Motion in Full

'This Council confirms its commitment to a full, 15-acre community park project on the Albert Basin site in Newry. The Council recognises that the Albert Basin site was given to the people of Newry in 1986 and that a commitment was given at that time to develop it as a recreation and amenity area for the generations of the future. It also recognises the work of community activists in presenting their plans for the park through a petition with over 10,000 signatures.

'Council commits to delivering a park in parallel with other capital works projects in Newry within the next Council term. The Council shall within 3 months establish a task and finish group reporting to the Capital Projects Working Group, consisting of elected members, community representatives and a dedicated Council officer to establish plans to move the Albert Basin park project forward and investigate funding options’