Raymond McCreesh play park, democracy and judicial activism

The Newry play park named after IRA hunger striker (and leading suspect in the Kingsmills murders) Raymond McCreesh has kept its name. Unionists on Newry council called a vote on changing the name. One SDLP councillor abstained on the vote whilst the others were not present: something denounced by victims’ campaigner Kenny Donaldson. This despite the SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell opposing the local SDLP’s previous failure to back a name change. Unionists have vowed to continue the fight when the super council takes over in April:

From the News Letter:

UKIP councillor Henry Reilly said that unionist members of the new council were meeting to discuss the issue last night.
The new super-council will have eight unionists, 14 Sinn Fein, 14 SDLP and two Alliance councillors and three independents.
“If this goes to a judicial review all the councillors who backed the decision could be surcharged and could lose their seats.”

Interestingly they appear likely to try to use the same legislation as the Equality Commission is using against Ashers’ Bakery in the “gay cake row”. Although some (myself included) wholeheartedly support renaming the play park, the extent to which the judiciary are now being used in an attempt to change democratic decisions could become troubling. Other decisions the challenging of which might be perceived as judicial activism include attempts to overturn Poots’s decision on homosexual adoption and blood donation and decisions regarding extending abortion to NI. As Framer notes here:

The British decided to have a devolved legislature in Belfast (and Edinburgh etc.) The locals agreed to this. So it is entirely British and within the GFA settlement that different laws and rights are in existence, or denied, in different parts of the kingdom.
It is what you all wanted and what you got. Live with it.

It seems that some who do not like local democratic decisions are determined to overcome them by persuading the judiciary that laws should be the same throughout the UK. Whilst in the case of the terrorist play park that suits me perfectly the principle could become somewhat concerning.

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