Union confirms rally to proceed on Saturday October 23rd at 3pm at Marcus Square, High Street, Newry
Campaigners call for mass show of strength by public support for action on a green space: to hold ‘politicians feet to the fire’ ensure their promises translate into reality
Unite Regional Community Coordinator, Albert Hewitt, confirmed that his union’s community activists were continuing with their planned rally for the Albert Basin park in Newry [on Saturday October 23rd] and called on members of the public to mobilise and not be put off by reports of a last ditch move on the green space after years of waiting.
“Our members in Newry – working with our industrial branch membership and other trade unions – decided that action was needed to raise the demand for a 15 acre park to be developed on the Albert Basin in Newry. After they first announced the rally they received huge levels of support from local residents, schools and other community organisations.
“It is a disgrace to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council that they have left plans to develop the Albert Basin into public, green space on the back-burner for so many years. Newry is the only major city in Ireland, north or south, without a park or green space for the public. This has left people, in particular working-class people, in the city – and in surrounding areas – lacking access to what is a vital outdoor amenity.
“During the Covid pandemic many have sought to raise their spirits and escape the lockdown by going for a walk in green spaces; indeed one of the few benefits of the pandemic has been a growing awareness of our natural environment. For those living in housing estates, with small or no garden spaces, access to a public park is a lifeline; sadly that option was not available for residents in Newry. This situation can’t continue.
“Unite community members in Newry, working with our industrial membership and others in the trade union movement locally, responded by announcing plans for a public rally to demand a park for their city. Since that announcement, both the local council and the Stormont Executive have suddenly came to life on this issue. After years of inaction, there are now promises of a £16 million investment. While Unite community and industrial members welcome those promises – we need to see these words translate into reality.
“I want to congratulate all our community members, our industrial members in their workplaces and the NIPSA activists who have spearheaded this campaign. Yet again, they have demonstrated how working-class people getting organised can make a difference.
“Unite community is going ahead with our rally. We need to keep the pressure on and hold the feet of the politicians to the fire to guarantee that Newry gets the green space its population deserves. We are calling on the people of Newry to come out in support of our campaign in a demonstration of real people power”, Mr Hewitt said.