Belfast Telegraph

18 Apr 2012

The ruins of McGurks Bar, Dec 1971

A row has broken out over a request to rename a Belfast street in memory of 15 people who were killed in a UVF bombing.

Unionists on Belfast City Council have been accused of playing political football with a proposal to change Fishers Court, off North Queen Street in the north of the city, to McGurk’s Way — after the 1971 explosion in McGurk’s Bar in which 15 Catholic civilians died.

The name change has been passed by the council’s health and environmental services committee, but is due to be discussed again in a full meeting of elected members on May 1.

Frank Dempsey from St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s Housing Committee, which suggested the new name, said: “I just cannot understand why this has been turned into a political football all of a sudden.”

This is the second time the council has considered the name change.

Last year unionists forced through the existing street name which was also favoured by the housing association, Habinteg, that built the social housing properties.

Since then, however, all 15 residents have been surveyed and all were found to be favour of the new name. A petition has also been submitted to the council.

Ciaran MacAirt, a spokesman for the McGurk’s Bar families, said that they considered it an “honour” to have their relatives recognised.

Among those opposed to the move is north Belfast DUP councillor Brian Kingston. He claimed that it could create a “chill factor” for Protestants and set a precedent for the council.