No records of consultation with GAA on pitch strategy

Craigavon Civic Centre Photo by Google
Craigavon Civic Centre Photo by Google

No records of consultation with the GAA on pitch strategy have been held by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, it has been revealed.

According to a Freedom of Information response, the council has admitted it has no records of any dates, times or minutes of any meetings with the GAA on pitch strategy.

The Council had consulted widely on the Craigavon Pitch Strategy but Sinn Fein challenged the council on the level of consultation with the GAA.

In June an Ulster GAA spokesperson said: “At no stage was Ulster GAA consulted in relation to the ABC Council pitches strategy.

“Previous reporting on the matter indicated that Ulster GAA had been involved in the process, however, this was incorrect.”

Having submitted Freedom of Information requests, various GAA clubs across north Armagh received answers last Thursday from the council regarding the ‘consultation’.

The letter revealed no records of any dates, times or minutes of meetings with the GAA in relation to Craigavon pitch strategy had been found.

Sinn Féin Councillor Catherine Nelson said the freedom of information response from ABC council ‘is damning but not surprising’.

She said: “I questioned the level of consultation that had taken place with GAA clubs upon seeing the council’s pitch strategy in draft form.

“I was assured consultation had taken place however it soon became apparent that this was far from the case.

“This Freedom of Information response is damning if not unsurprising and demonstrates a complete failure to consult.

“This is not how council should do business. I have raised this with our Chief Executive and believe the council could now face a judicial review.”

A statement issued on various GAA club Facebook pages on Thursday stated: “As most members are aware a recent “consultation” took place lead by staff from the Recreational Services Department of Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council and a publicly funded Consultant, brought in from GB.

“As GAA clubs in north Armagh, we felt collectively that the GAA was very under represented in planning for the future in comparison to other sports.

“Despite lobbying collectively, ABC Council were insistent that all clubs had been consulted extensively, despite statements being forwarded from our governing bodies to say they did not consult on clubs’ behalf. All clubs in north Armagh also communicated likewise to confirm no consultation took place.

“At a recent council meeting it was voted to go ahead despite clubs’ collective concerns, with the Recreational Department in attendance on the night. The GAA clubs requested a Call In and yet again we were denied. GAA members throughout north Armagh put Freedom of Information requests into council,” said the statement with the published FoI. It continued: “A shocking indictment on our council that this is all that can be produced as evidence of “consultation” what a waste of tax payers money. Next stop judicial review!”