By Gemma Burns

The relative of a woman murdered in the McGurk’s Bar bombing has urged unionist councillors not to oppose plans to rename a North Belfast street in memory of the massacre. Two years ago the North Belfast News revealed that plans to call a newly built housing development close to the site of the bar bombing, McGurk’s Walk  was blocked by Habinteg the housing association involved in building the new homes.

Back in 2010 Habinteg had contacted local group St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s Housing Committee for ideas on the naming of the new street. The committee came up with the idea of McGurk’s in order to remember the innocent people who died in the massacre and, after consulting families of the victims, they formally put the name forward as an option.

The housing body dubbed the name too “political” and put forward the name Fishers Court, which was passed by the Belfast City Council two years ago with unionist support. Both the SDLP and Sinn Féin refused to back the name because they believed the residents’ wishes to have the street named after McGurk’s was the right decision.

Now two years on the residents of the street have come up with a petition signed by everyone in the street supporting the plan for the street to be renamed McGurk’s. The proposal is due to go before the full Belfast City Council meeting on May 1 and is expected to be opposed by unionists.

Ciaran MacAirt, whose grandmother Kathleen Irvine was one of the15 innocent men, women and children killed in the 1971 massacre said the unionist councilors should support the wishes of the families and residents and allow the name to be passed.

“All of the families are standing together with the residents on this and supporting their plans to name the street after McGurk’s,” he said.

“It is about honouring and remembering innocent victims. We, as a group, have always said we don’t like it when politicians retreat back to their own political tribe we would ask them to look at it as an atrocity and not look at the religion of those killed.”

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