Full of optimism for a Park in Newry back in 2017. What age will this young lad be before it happens? Photograph: Columba O'Hare
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Newry, Mourne and Down Council have no intention of building a 15 acre park at the Albert Basin.

There, sadly that's my considered opinion at this present point of time. Now I've got that off my chest do I feel better? No I certainly don't, in fact I feel really angry. Despite a promise in 2017 to build a 15 acre park at the Albert Basin we are no further on in realising that dream.

Being a very positive kind of person I really wanted to believe that everyone from senior management right down to our local Councillors were all singing from the same hymn sheet and working at full tilt towards creating a wonderful park. A park that Newry people could be proud of, a green space that would be the catalyst for so many wonderful things to happen for our city.

Sadly it seems all Council want is their Civic Centre/ Council Offices, and no matter how long I scratch my head I can't see that being a catalyst for anything wonderful in Newry. Yes the Theatre possibly, but Council offices are not going to lead to a renewed love of or interest in Newry, which is what we all need. I'm not saying don't build new offices, I'm saying priorities need to be right, especially in this time of pandemic when green space is infinitely more important than buildings.

What has led me to this analysis? If Council really wanted a Park they would already have it built by now, or at least had a good start made but apart from that there are plenty of other indicators. The latest one came yesterday with the publishing of minutes from Monday's special SP&R meeting which discussed the park. Listening to the audio of the meeting on Monday I had tried to work out exactly what was said by the Chair when she explained the decisions made in the behind closed doors discussion on the park, but audio was intermittent. Realising a misplaced comma in text can entirely change its meaning I contacted Council to send me the correct text but they just referred me back to the published audio. My translation of the audio and possibly other Councillors translation was that they had agreed to complete an outline business case for the park, but as always the devil is in the detail and the only conclusion I can reach after reading the OFFICIAL Council text published yesterday is the only business case mentioned is to appoint an economist .. AN ECONOMIST!

The Minutes re Albert Basin Park (SP&R Meeting Monday 27 Sept)

"To complete a business case to allow for: the appointment of an economist to complete an outline business case (OBC) for the Albert Basin City Park, to identify a preferred option and appoint a consultant team to provide design and cost information to support the completion of the OBC.

Please let me know what you make of the above. What on earth does it mean? It's a head wrecking read - Do a business case to do a business case .. what on earth! All I see is another brazen attempt to delay yet again anything that could possibly mean they would have to actually build a park. If they were intent on doing that surely the text would read "It was agreed to complete an Outline Business Case for the Albert Basin Park"

Four years after Councillors unanimously agreed to build a park at the Albert Basin, nothing has been done. Most tellingly this week Council have agreed a fund of £132.4M for projects including the Civic Centre but to date just £150K has been approved for the park. An attempt on Monday by Councillors Jarlath Tinnelly and Patrick Brown to allocate £10M for the park was voted down by all the other Councillors present.

Newry not ready for a park?

But of course Newry's not ready for this yet, as one Councillor having their 'feeding crocodiles' moment at Monday's SP&R meeting compared putting money towards the park to giving a car to a 5 year old!

We certainly are more than ready for it, a place to rest and relax, a place to catch up with friends, a place to exercise, a place to enjoy nature, a place to celebrate life, a place in Newry to be proud of!

It really is impossible to know where the two main parties are. While some individuals within parties are full supporters of the project the party machines themselves are not so clear cut.

The removal of this building would certainly help indicate that something was happening. Photogra
The removal of this building from the Albert Basin site would certainly help indicate that something was happening. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

On Monday after this week's meeting got a press release from one of the parties about how wonderful everything was but we decided not to use it as so much of it was totally misleading.

I think some Councillors think the spin generated on Monday night will create the illusion that at last things are moving, but they don't seem to realise the days for spin are long gone and only action will work at this stage. What everyone was waiting for on Monday was at least a morsel of good news, but it never came.

Something signalling intent, possibly money allocated, a Pop Up Park on the site, news that Council were going to demolish the current fire - damaged building on the site or clear it of Council junk, but we are still waiting.

Will that signal of intent come before today's children have children of their own?

What can be done to ensure we get the park we were promised? Let us know what you think!

Columba O'Hare


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pat Cunningham · 17 days ago
    It is hard this non action by the council. An appointment by an economist??   A business plan for a public amenity??What would be the cost benefit analysis of the Park say over a 10 year period?  Good luck to the appointed economist. It is only a stall. You are right they don’t want it. 
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mavis Gorman · 18 days ago
    I have never seen such a council for lying every week I read the Reporter about what is going on and it seems that the people in high offices have no compunctions about telling lies that can be proven to be untrue these people are in elected and are running rings round the Newry ratepayers it’s time we had a clean out and appointmented honest people to look after the towns interested good work Paul Walsh for keeping people informed about what’s going on in our Council chambers 
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim McGrath · 18 days ago
    The Newry councillors not supportive of the park should be named and next local elections a team of volunteers should be mobilised to campaign in their area for their nearest rival or someone stand on the single issue platform - I think a threat to any of the parties might sway their decisions.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    K Keenan · 18 days ago
    Action not more waffling is what the voters want, as the currently elected representatives are all now so experienced with zoom calls it would be very beneficial if they contacted Belfast Council as they have just announced they are installing a new park around the Titanic quarter. This would eliminate the proposed trip to Cork!!! save money and hopefully inspire this council on how to get things done 
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Vincent McAllister · 18 days ago
    Absolutely disgusting behaviour by our council.  Can we organise a vote of no- confidence and remove these prople
  • This commment is unpublished.
    M Gallagher · 19 days ago
    Unfortunately I am old enough to remember when the idea of a Park in that area was first proposed…. .and it was long before 2017, 2014, 2010 … ..Council, Councillors, private investors, developers etc have had 30 plus years to do something in this area.  Grants, funding, private money, investments etc .. have  come and gone…. and gone … and gone …I am at a loss for words .
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kathleen McCaul · 19 days ago
    It's disgusting  MNDDC  do not take on board what the ratepayers want but they 5ake on board what they want for themselves. Let's all keep our votes and let them see how our feelings are. Shame on them.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Fidelma Mc keever · 19 days ago
    May,be we need to all stop paying our extortionate rates!


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