06 January 2006

Council gives GAA land for free

BBC

Derry City Council has agreed to give away a valuable plot of land to a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club free of charge.

The Sean Dolan club in Creggan is planning to develop a pitch on the land which is worth almost £250,000.

The council now has to seek ministerial permission before it can hand over the field which is located beside the club.

The SDLP said it was the right thing to do, but the DUP was opposed to the move which a council committee approved.

The club was offered the site 10 years ago for £10,000, but it did not have the money to develop the site at that time.

Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Campbell said his party also believed the club should get the land.

However, unionists said they were worried about demands the council may now face from other clubs looking for land.

Thomas Conway of the SDLP said: "This is land which is recreation land only.

"It is costing Derry City Council £20,000 at the minute because it is a dump.

"This is not money that we can recoup by selling the land - it is money that it has been valued at.

"What we are asking is that the valuation is reduced to zero, because here is a club which is going to provide a facility for the young people of this city that we can't provide."

However, DUP East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said the council was not adopting the same approach to other sporting clubs.

"There are a series of other clubs on the east side of the river, who are in other sporting disciplines, who have applications in and who were told from today's (Thursday's) meeting they will be looked at 'whenever we come to them'.

"The west bank proceeds with a gaelic club now, at a quarter of a million pounds, with no benefit to the ratepayers whatsoever and handed over for nothing - that is not on."

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