14 January 2006

Second council row involving GAA

BBC


The site which the council is to hand over to a GAA club

Unionist and nationalist councillors in Derry are involved in a row over the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) for the second time in a week.

The council has discussed giving seven acres of land to GAA club Doire Trasna in the Waterside on a 99-year lease for a nominal fee.

Earlier this month, it agreed to give land to Sean Dolan GAA club in Creggan.

Unionists have criticised the moves, saying the GAA has been given land worth £300,000 in recent days.

The full city council still has to vote on the decision, but the result is being seen as a formality.

'Contribution'

Doire Trasna spokesman Joe McWilliams said: "We basically are going to carry out something which the council should be doing.

"It's going to cost us to develop it somewhere in the region of half a million pounds of which, in that context, the council contribution of £70,000 is a very small amount of the overall cost."

Doire Trasna currently uses council grounds which it shares with other sports. Gaelic matches are played across two soccer pitches.

Unionists, however, have questioned whether it is fair that two GAA clubs have been given land in just over a week.

'Nominal rent'

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said: "You can't simply have a Christmas Day giveaway every week, which is what it is turning into.

"Within two weeks, we have two Gaelic clubs, both in Derry, both getting effectively free gratis, either land or land at a nominal rent, and other sporting disciplines have major applications in before the council that have not yet been decided upon."

Sinn Fein councillor Paul Fleming denied that the council was giving the GAA preferential treatment.

"It (the land) has been given to two clubs to facilitate sporting facilities for hundreds and hundreds of young people in this city," he said.

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