On an incredibly wet and windy night over 30 people attended the first meeting of the Newry 2020 campaign at Sugar Island on Wednesday night.

Newry 2020 is an organisation set up after a blog post on Newry.ie detailing ideas for Newry attracted a lot of interest.

Conor Patterson, Chief Executive, Newry and Mourne Co-Operative and Enterprise Agency and a leading force in producing the Greater Newry Vision document Newry 2020 the first meeting.talked about their work and indicated potential pitfalls for the new group to watch out for.

He pointed out that where there is political will there also can be money! People say there is no money available but massive projects elsewhere such as Maze Long Kesh and the Titanic Building perhaps paint a different picture.

He also emphasised for the group to be aware of the ideas already raised in the Greater Newry Vision and subsequently put into the Newry Masterplan and stressed the importance of keeping up political pressure on representatives and getting involved in existing local organisations.

Also speaking at the night Columba O’Hare commented on what was already being put in place in Newry and of the desire to continue the momentum.

“Newry has so much untapped potential and the possibilities for our waterways, especially Newry Canal, as a facility to be used by both locals and visitors are phenomenal.

“Things are looking up but we need to continue the momentum. Local businesses are leading the way when it comes to attracting jobs. Community organisations including the Canal Street Group, Newry Maritime Association and IWAI Newry have made great in-roads into the revitalisation of our city.

“It’s wonderful to see new festivals taking off in Newry - Oktoberfest, Newry Film Festival, Pride in Newry, Newry Marathon and The Eariwig.

“The first ever Newry Triathlon and the revitalised Bath Tub race at last years Festival of Water were fantastic.

“The St Patricks Day Parade is going from strength to strength and the established Newry Feis and Drama Festival are still pulling in the crowds in their thousands. 

“Last weeks Sticky Fingers hosted Small Size - Big Festival certainly proved inspirational.”

The general consensus of the night was that Newry really needs a city centre park and both the Albert Basin and the linear park as mentioned in the Newry Masterplan were mooted as potential locations.

Other easier achievable ideas included a Traditional Music Festival, working towards removing the shutters from shops in our city, Guerrilla Planting and increasing peoples pride in their city.

A full list of all ideas brought up will appear in the next week or so. The next meeting is on Tuesday the 11th of March at 7.30pm again at the Sugar Supper Club and you are welcome to come along.