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A recent online meeting between community group Newry 2020 and Sinn Fein saw how plans for the new Albert Basin park in Newry are an integral part of Newry City Centre regeneration and how the project could fit in to the wider picture forming an integral part of a cross border Green Corridor stretching all the way from Carlingford/ Greenore to Lough Neagh.

Sinn Féin and Newry 2020 dicussed how plans for a new 15 acre park on the Albert Basin is the cornerstone to the Newry City Centre Regeneration project, and will deliver major benefits for the entire district.

An impression of the Albert Basin Park. Courtesy of James McConville/ Newry 2020
A graphic impression of the Albert Basin Park. Courtesy of James McConville/ Newry 2020

James McConville, Newry 2020 volunteer and architect, highlighted the importance of green space for mental health, stressing the need for an ambitious vision to help Newry City recover from the pandemic.

The architect emphasised that Newry’s new city park should be part of a cross-border green corridor running between the river and the canal, linking to other city centre regeneration projects including the theatre.  

The park should act as the urban hub for a "supernetwork" of greenways connecting the entire district as well as Ireland's Ancient East via Carlingford Lough.

The group's proposals were warmly welcomed by Sinn Féin representatives, who highlighted cross-border funding opportunities for the park, particularly around the €500 Million Shared Island Fund.

The meeting participants.

South Down MP Chris Hazzard compared the project to the Southern Relief Road and Narrow Water Bridge in terms of its potential impact, and pointed out that the park was not expensive when seen in those terms. "As a far as I am concerned money should not be an obstacle for this project," said the representative, adding "I would urge all local representatives to get behind these exciting plans."

His colleague, local MLA for Newry City Liz Kimmins, thanked Newry 2020 for an exciting exchange of ideas and suggestions on a vision that gave hope for much better days ahead, stating "There are clear action points coming out of tonight's meeting, and we will continue working in partnership to make sure the park gets delivered." 

Sinn Féin Council Group Leader Willie Clarke pointed out that the park project fitted perfectly with Sinn Féin's existing policy on climate change and had the potential to benefit the entire district, not just Newry city. 

It was also emphasised that, despite Covid-19, Sinn Féin councillors have ensured that consultation on the park was completed and additional monies for the park's design team were secured. It is imperative there are no unnecessary delays to the further progression of the park, and the Sinn Féin Council team are committed to ensuring any other monies that are required will be provided, and planning will be submitted as soon as possible to speed up the process.

The meeting concluded with a commitment from both sides to continue to work together on delivering the project, to explore how the council could deliver early wins such as a pop-up park, as well investigating the Shared Island Fund.

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