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In 2012 a campaign was launched to save Killeavy castle. This started in local media, lead to community meetings and ultimately the formation of Slieve Gullion BPT. The trust was established in order to explore community funding options to save the castle and to protect and preserve other buildings of local and historic significance. 

The committee of the trust then liaised with the previous owner, built heritage, and the Irish Landmark Trust to highlight the rapidly decaying plight of Killeavy Castle and to promote its historic significance and the potential its restoration would bring to the local community within the Ring of Gullion. 

Killeavy Castle
Killeavy Castle

Recently a number of images and articles have emerged in local press showing political representatives at the front of the castle and blatantly claiming credit and praise for their good works on this project. In fact the same photograph was used last year as propaganda in the run up to the elections. While Slieve Gullion BPT can confirm and indeed thank all of the local councilors, from all parties, for their support and can confirm that some of the meetings were attended by Megan Fearon MLA no other MLA’s attended. Further more Alex Attwood was contacted on numerous occasions both through the group and via Dominic Bradley. At this early stage support and guidance for this project was critical and sadly none was forthcoming. Indeed it was only on the completion of the sale and the subsequent planned development that any interest was shown. 

Members of Slieve Gullion BPT put a tremendous amount of time and effort into securing this buildings future and continue to look into other buildings of interest within our area particularly St.Luke’s Church of Ireland in Meigh. Like many volunteers our sole objective is to improve our local community, its environment and the quality of peoples lives. We find that this hijacking of our project for the political gains of individuals extremely insulting and distasteful. 

It would be remiss not the mention the exclusion of Gullion from the naming of the new council. There is a huge amount of anger and hurt that our inclusion as a region was not supported. We understand that the SDLP may be feeling the pressure from this outpouring of anger and disappointment however to use this project to claw back some credibility from within the community is unforgivable. 

The group would like to again express its delight and excitement at this development especially as it means the main fabric of this beautiful and historic building will be preserved, while the possibility of job creation and tourism will be a huge boost for the whole community. We wish the new owners every success and support. 

We would encourage those interested in the history of this magnificent area to follow us on Facebook and to attend our next meeting. We also extend our support to the campaign to have Gullion recognised within the new council name.

Slieve Gullion BPT

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Unite in the community commends the people of Newry, for turning out in such great numbers to the "save Daisy Hill stroke department rally". The people of Newry, have given The Southern trust, Jim Wells and Stormont, a crystal clear message " we want our stroke services to remain at Daisy hill hospital!" 

The Daisy Hill Save our Stroke Unit protest in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
The Daisy Hill Save our Stroke Unit protest in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

It was heartening to see the trade union movement standing together on this issue,this will have to continue if we are to prevail! Sadly the same cannot be said of our politicians; shamefully one political party used the occassion for political electioneering. (even though the people of Newry, stressed at the public meeting in Bellinis that they didn't want tactless party politics )If one has a stroke, the wonderful staff at Daisy Hill stroke department, don't concern themselves with a persons political back ground or religious orientation(they do everything that is humanly possible to save that persons life or ease their suffering) Bringing politics into this issue is a disservice to the wonderful staff at Daisy hill, such behaviour  only serves to alienate a large section of our community.

 Retention of our stroke department is not a political football to be kicked from pillar to post, it is an issue that far outweighs political allegiances If we are to have any chance of retaining our services we need the "whole community" to stand as one; time for our political leaders to do what they were elected to do "serve the community"and stop jostling to the front of public demonstrations to self promote.

Letters Page

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Letter to the Editor

I enclose two photographs, the first is St Joseph’s primary school, Newry in recent times. The second photograph is St Joseph’s Primary School this morning.

Spilt milk cannot be cried over, but I am concerned why all the checks and balances that are supposed to  exist did not work with this building in terms of preventing its demolition and ensuring Its preservation did not happen.. This building is a fine example of 1930’s schools architecture. It has architectural merit and had historical context in Newry. It was also pleasant to look at and certainly was capable for reuse. I have sent photos to two people involved in property in the UK to see if my thoughts were out of sync with wider society and they all said in their areas, councils would have made sure a building like this would be retained and refurbished, most also said that buildings of this age and design are in high demand as they have higher ceilings, are quirky, have better light than many modern buildings and can be refurbished in a cost effective way.

St Joseph's PS today. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
St Joseph's PS today. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

My questions are :-

(1)    Why did the council / planners not feel that this building was worth saving?

(2)    Why was the new planning department not aware this was on the cards and intervene.

(3)    Building control would have been well aware of this proposed demolition as they have been working on it for a year, why didn’t they communicate with other council departments to suggest intervention?

(4)    Why did conservation not feel it was worth saving?

(5)    Were the councillors made aware that this building was to be demolished and do they agree with its demolition?

It did not even cross my mind that this building would be demolished as I only do common sense and I had always assumed that it would be incorporated into the new school or sold off. I admit I did not go and look at the drawings or models, but being custodians of Newry that is what I expect my councillors and council to do.

St Joseph's PS last month. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
St Joseph's PS last month. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Newry as a city every year looks worse due to poor historically planning decisions and lack of strategy. When one considers in the past the city had real urban architectural beauty like Bristol and the Royal Docks in London, most of these buildings have now been demolished. Last year it was Bessbrook Mill, this year it is St josephs, I wonder what next year will be?

My observations are the that many people are focused on the issues that don’t really matter to the wider public and failing to intervene in issues that do matter and make a real difference to our town. How did Corry Square end up the way it now has for example? Why have planning permissions ben granted in Corry Square for future development which are poor architecturally for example?

The Space where the school used to be. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
The space where the school used to be. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

A post-mortem review now needs to happen to stop this happening again and decide what sort of city we want in the future. I realise it is earlier days with the New Council and I accept this decision predates the formation of the new council and was originally made by planning in Craigavon, but it seems to me that decisions such as this are out of touch with the general public mood and intervention is needed now to review what is proposed for Newry over next five years and we take stock of the architectural heritage we are about to lose and if required, intervene.

The demolition of St Joseph’s  will go down in time as being a poor decision. It was one of the few buildings artists would go down to and paint pictures of, for me that tells me all I need to know about the regard this building was held in.

Name submitted.

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Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

It is natural for those of us who voted to remain in the EU to be sceptical that an infrastructural project such as the link between A1 and A2 carriageway will no longer be supported.

This conclusion is based upon our belief that the Government in Stormount and in Westminister will have no interest in the economy of Newry Mourne & Down. That may have been our experience in past decades. It may even have been enhanced by the role that the European Union carried out in dispensing funds to deprived areas.

Michael McKeown
Michael McKeown

The Brexit campaigners promised us all that everything would be better when we were out of the EU. They pointed not only to the £350m per week but to the other £500m per week that would no longer be going to Brussels. The pure logic is that not only will the EU Funds for border areas be available but they can be increased. It would also follow that they can be more quickly dispensed and with less procedure.

We as a Chamber need our politicians of all parties to unite to ensure that the promise is delivered.

We cannot reverse the vote and indeed we should rejoice in the analysis that it has been an outcry by the underprivileged. In the absence of our own primary issue about the return of a physical border then we may well have voted in protest at a government in Westminster that was ignoring us. We are as peripheralised and ignored as Sunderland.  It must be the new aspiration of all of us that privilege recognises deprivation and that it acts to equalise society throughout the 

 United Kingdom. This means among other issues such as social welfare, a better distribution of employment opportunities, assistance to businesses, and adequate infrastructure.

The range of benefits of a link between the A1 and A2, include improved air standards for Newry, access to and from South Down to health facilities, increased tourism, and improved access for trade.  The completion of this link should be our dividend whilst freedom of movement and goods must be taken for granted as the base line promise of the break from the European Union.

Yours Sincerely

Michael Mc Keown

 

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Letter to the Editor

Statement 22/8/2016

From ‘Border Communities against Brexit’

A protest was organised today in Newry, where the Secretary of State James Brokenshire was due to meet the local Chamber of Commerce.  

The protest was organised by a group of concerned citizens from communities on both sides of the border.

We are made up of farmers, business owners, community groups and individuals from various backgrounds.  We are a broad cross section of the community united by the fact that an EU exit will have disastrous consequences for all of us.

Let us firstly say that we are hugely disappointed the Secretary of State cancelled his meeting today, due to our peaceful protest.  Mr Brokenshire claims he is touring the north to “canvas public opinion” on an EU exit.  In Newry today he had an opportunity to speak directly to the public and he didn’t show up.  He had an opportunity to engage directly with border communities and talk to people about their very real concerns but instead he opted to go for a photo opportunity in Hillsborough.  

Mr Brokenshire knows what public opinion on an EU exit is. The people of the north already gave their opinion and on it and 56% of people rejected it.

People in border communities like ours have had enough experience of partition and division.  We have worked long and hard to turn the border area, once an economic wasteland, into a prosperous region living up to its potential.  We will not allow the voters of England or unrepresentative individuals like Mr Brokenshire to undo that hard work.

In addition to being a wholly undemocratic action; any attempt to drag the north out of the EU against the wishes of the population will have disastrous consequences for local communities and the local economy.  

An EU exit inevitably means a deepening of partition, which has crippled communities on both sides of the border here for 90 years. 

Communities here have benefitted enormously from EU funding through the PEACE and INTERREG programmes.

Agriculture, one of the primary industries here, is kept afloat by CAP funding.


The British Government has all but said they will not be replacing any of this funding.  The Leave campaign’s policies and promises, particularly those around finances, have all been exposed and debunked.  The British Government clearly has no idea what an EU exit means or what the consequences will be and bottom of the list of their concerns are the people of Ireland.

Today Mr Brokenshire perfectly illustrated the attitude of the British Government to Ireland and the democratic rights of Irish people, ignore them and hope they go away.

We will not be going away.  The people of the north voted to remain in the EU and that vote must be respected.

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I have to say I never knew about the festival (City of Merchants) and I am someone that loves this type of thing and does travel to the likes of Warrenpoint, Rostrever, Newcastle for their festivals. Everyone is saying it was posted all over facebook, yet I didn't see one thing about it.

Fun for the children at the City of Merchants Festival in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Fun for the children at the City of Merchants Festival in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Not everyone really walks into the town the way they used to.

We have gotten used to parking outside where we need to go and just driving off.

So far as checking whats on. I obviously wasn't on the ball this time. I do try to check....

The festival yest would have had me out all day and evening, right up my street.

Actually saw the fireworks from my house and wondered what was going on?

Very delighted Newry is doing more. I would support anything from my home town and be very proud of the people functioning these festivals.

I am not sure how you can promote more. But A lot, like myself had no clue. I often even check the local shop windows for whats going on.

Maybe more of that should be done.

Either ways, I am going to have to be more on the ball and check more thoroughly what's happening in Newry. Again well done everyone involved in the activities x

Name supplied

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Dear Sir,

The UKs disability benefits system is failing those who need it the most, as well as costing us an unnecessary amount of money.

The UK Government is throwing millions of pounds away on an assessment process that is broken and their actions may have implications for benefits in Northern Ireland in the future.

PIP is meant to help manage the extra costs of a condition, but in fact a quarter of people with Parkinson’s are losing some, or all, of their award.

This is simply devastating.

That’s why Parkinson’s UK is calling on the UK Government to automatically move people with Parkinson’s on the highest rate of DLA to PIP, without the need for reassessment.

We are asking people affected by Parkinson’s in Northern Ireland to help support our benefits petition as actions in Westminster could affect future decisions on PIP in NI.

590 people from the Northern Ireland have already signed, I hope your readers will join us by signing it here: www.parkinsons.org.uk/pippetition

Together we can help bring an end to a system that’s evidently not fit for purpose.

Yours faithfully,

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Letter to the editor

16 February 2018

Dear Sir,

In recent weeks we have heard an alarming number of stories about people with Parkinson’s being misunderstood or mistreated by the staff of public-facing businesses across the UK.

Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition. This means that it causes problems in the brain and gets worse over time. Parkinson’s affects everyone differently, but the main symptoms are tremor (shaking), slowness of movement, and rigidity (muscle stiffness). Other symptoms can also include depression, anxiety, hallucinations, memory problems and dementia.

Lack of public understanding can make simple things like getting the bus, paying at a checkout or even going for a coffee with friends daunting for people with Parkinson's.

To make matters worse, Parkinson's UK research shows one in every four people have had their condition confused for drunkenness, and one in ten have been laughed at in public due to their symptoms.

We also know that one in three people with Parkinson’s have felt the need to cover up their symptoms, because they’re not seen as socially acceptable. This is completely unacceptable. It's time to change.

Parkinson’s UK has created a free and easily accessible Parkinson's in your workplace training package and, via an open letter, the charity is calling on all businesses to roll out the training and make sure their staff understand Parkinson's and can support their customers’ needs.

To join the campaign and call for businesses to better understand Parkinson’s, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk/UFP

Together we can raise awareness and make society more understanding of Parkinson’s.

Thank you,

Nicola Moore

Northern Ireland Country Director

Parkinson’s UK

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Letter to the Editor

In light of recent events surrounding Raymond McCreesh Park, we in Ógra Shinn Féin an Iúir would like to make our position known on the issue - We support keeping the name of the Park as it is!

Newry is awash with reminders of our town’s rich heritage and history. Many of our streets, parks and buildings are named after historically relevant figures – some of whom had strong connections to our town, and some who did not. Many of them have played a part in shaping our city and making it what it is today.

James Connolly Park is situated in Patrick Street. James Connolly, of course, is the widely revered and recognised leading figure in the 1916 Easter Rising with the rank of Commandant General, Dublin Brigade, Army of the Irish Republic.  A native of Edinburgh, he was shot by a British firing squad for his role in trying to overthrow British rule in Ireland.

Raymond McCreesh Park
Raymond McCreesh Park. Photograph: NewRayPics.com

Right next to James Connolly Park, you will find Michael Mallin Park. Mallin was an Irish revolutionary and Socialist who, like his comrade Connolly, took an active role in the Easter Rising of 1916. He met the same fate as the patriot Connolly and was executed by firing squad at Kilmainham Gaol.

Republican and Unionist history and heritage have cohabited peacefully in Newry for many centuries. We want to see this continue. Our town has a number of sites that reflect our unionist heritage. Sites named after British royals, Lords and Earls etc.

Albert Basin, is named after Prince Albert – the German husband of a British queen who presided over the Famine in Ireland. If you walk a little further down the quay, you will come across Victoria Lock – which is named after the above mentioned queen, who, it must be said, holds a less than favourable legacy in Ireland, for her role during An Gorta Mór as “The Famine Queen”.

Not far from Albert Basin is Kilmorey Street – named after the Earls and Viscounts of Kilmorey – titles of which the Needham family have held for centuries and hold to the present day. This family have a bridge named after them in our town as well. Indeed one of the Needham’s was involved in the slaughter of civilians following the Battle of Vinegar Hill in Wexford in 1798.

We could continue, but we hope the point is becoming clear.

There have never been any objections or complaints about any of the aforementioned places named after historically significant figures. However, over the past number of years, a campaign to besmirch the name of local man, Raymond McCreesh has occurred.

Raymond was a highly respected member of the community in Newry/South Armagh. He was a Volunteer soldier of the Irish Republican Army.  He was a man of great convictions who never feared standing up to a ruthless oppressor, like Connolly and Mallin, whom our town rightly honours with street names. Raymond McCreesh made the ultimate sacrifice and selflessly gave his young life on hunger strike defying Britain’s criminalisation policy against our struggle for national sovereignty. The park named in his honour has been proven numerous times to be what the residents of Ballybot want, and how they wish to honour someone who they respect and proudly remember.

We have a right to remember our patriot dead. We have a right to commemorate their sacrifices and we will continue to remember them with dignity. This needs to be understood by those who wish to go against the democratic wishes of the people of Ballybot and the greater Barcroft areas. Raymond McCreesh Park is here to stay, just like Albert Basin is, and Victoria Lock is, because we all have a right to remember and commemorate our history and the people who are part of it.

We understand that unionists might not agree with our view of Raymond. We do not necessarily agree with how our unionist neighbours commemorate and celebrate certain aspects of their culture. Orange Parades marching through our town, bringing it to a standstill several times a year, for hours on end and causing widespread traffic chaos is not exactly something we agree with.

As young Republicans we have witnessed and indeed supported the many efforts at outreach and compromise emanating from our community over the years, which we feel were never reciprocated by our Unionist neighbours. Change has to be a two way process. The reality is that Raymond McCreesh Pk is here to stay because it was democratically fought for.

Raymond McCreesh, our Hero.

From

Ógra Shinn Féin an Iúir

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