Sinn Fein to call in Craigavon pitch strategy amid lack of GAA consultation claims

Catherine Nelson
Catherine Nelson

Sinn Fein are to use the Call In system to block the Craigavon Pitch Strategy amid claims it did not fully consult the GAA.

Cllr Catherine Nelson said her party will ‘Call In’ the decision to pass the Craigavon Pitch Strategy after an animated debate on Monday night.

It follows a report by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council on pitch provision in the Craigavon area which Sinn Fein claimed failed to consult with the GAA.

A motion to defer a decision for further consultation brought forward by Cllr Nelson was defeated by 19 votes to 16.

Last week 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.”

SDLP Cllr Joe Nelson said their initial support of the pitch strategy had been based on the ‘basic assumption’ that there had been consultation.

Sinn Féin Chair of Leisure Services Committee Cllr Catherine Nelson called for the matter to be deferred saying ‘consultation did not take place in a robust manner’.

DUP Cllr Mark Baxter said the strategy had been ‘bouncing around’ the council for years. He accused Sinn Fein of ‘headline grabbing’.

SDLP Cllr Thomas O’Hanlon suggested in future that any consultation be added to the appendices of reports.

SDLP Cllr Joe Nelson said it was the fastest growing sport on this island. They are being disingenuous to the nationalist community.”

Cllr Catherine Nelson said it was a ‘damning inditment of officers’.

She said, after the meeting, that her party plans to call in the decision ‘to pass the Craigavon Pitch Strategy despite ample evidence that robust consultation did not take place’.

“Our conversations with local GAA clubs and the recent statement from the Ulster Council is damning evidence that proper consultation did not take place.

“The lack of consultation reflects the complete absence of any planned Council provision for the GAA.

“Given this lack of consultation or provision for the GAA we will legally challenge the decision.

“A proper consultation must take place in conjunction with a full equality impact assessment. The findings of both should then be presented to Council.”