Sinn Féin says that its Council proposal that the new Strabane Community Pedestrian Bridge over the river Mourne be named after the late Cllr Ivan Barr is in recognition of the major positive legacy Ivan has left behind.
The Strabane councillor and Sinn Fein representative Ivan died in May 2008 after a short illness.
Mr Barr had been involved in politics for over 40 years and was a former chairman of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.
In making the proposal, which was voted through by the casting vote of the Chair at Council last night, Sinn Féin party group leader Cllr Brian Mc Mahon said: “The delivery of the pedestrian bridge to develop a vital link between our communities on the East Bank and Ballycolman sides of the town has been talked about for generations and has been a priority project for our party stretching back to the previous mandates of Council.
“Our deceased party colleague the late Ivan Barr was the main driving force within Council behind the campaign to develop the this vital community link as well as the development of other key civic and community infrastructure projects we now have such as such as the Alley Theatre, the state of the art Library, the magnificent facilities we now have at Melvin.
“So naming this new bridge after Ivan would not only be a fitting tribute to the pivotal role Ivan played in initiating and spearheading the drive for the bridge but would also be a wider acknowledgement of the massive contribution Ivan made in the wider service of the community in his capacity as an elected Councillor for 23 years, as a life-long activist and campaigner for political and social justice, and in how he served all the people of this community with such dedication, hard work and fairness.
“Ivan was held in high esteem by all sides within and outside Council and in supporting and recommending this proposal to DSD, Council will be reflecting, regardless of party political allegiance, that due recognition be given to Ivan’s memory as a colleague and as an outstanding public representative who contributed so much to this town and indeed wider district.
In seconding the proposal Cllr Jay Mc Cauley said: “Naming places after local people who have made major contributions to the community and civic life of Strabane and District is not a new departure and provides not only a fitting recognition to their contributions to our community but in doing so, also provides positive local role models that we can encourage our younger generations to emulate in terms of active citizenship, community involvement and civic pride. “
“Local precedents for this transcend the political, religious and cultural spheres of life with for example: O’Nolan Park, Bradley Way, John Wesley Street, Mulvey House, Kennedy Street, Alexander Place, Carlton Drive, O’Kane Park, Sigersons Place, Delaney Crescent to name but a few.
“I think it is also important to emphasise the appropriateness of naming this bridge after Ivan, given his pivotal and leading role in bridge building across political, religious and cultural communities, and bringing power sharing arrangements to Strabane District Council long before other local authorities accepted d’hondt arrangements.
“This has allowed relations in Strabane across the Council Chamber and the wider community to be cordial and co-operative. The bridge named in his honour would therefore be a tribute to this aspect of Ivan’s legacy for all our people to take pride in.
“Also, the eloquent tributes paid to Ivan by all parties and officials alike at the time of his passing acknowledged this statesman-like quality Ivan possessed which transcended all differences and enables all people from all communities to recognise his contribution.
“Ivan was very much recognised as a bridge builder, both inside and outside of council, and it would be a fitting tribute indeed if the new bridge between the Ballycolman and Head of the Town – areas for which he done so much down through the years- could bear his name.”