Cllr Catherine Nelson, Chair of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council’s Leisure Services Committee, said the latest strategy report on play pitches doesn’t reflect the needs of the entire Craigavon community.
She said: “This report was commissioned to identify need following requests from our party, on behalf of the GAA community, for greater GAA provision in the Craigavon area. Our public spaces must be reflective of our entire population. The final recommendations fail to reflect the need clearly identified in the exercise. The GAA is the largest sporting organisation in our Borough yet in the Craigavon area ABC council provides 25 pitches for soccer and zero for GAA. The one pitch cited in the report as council-owned and suitable for GAA is located in Portadown, in a public park and open for use to a number of other sports.
“As a council we rightly provide pitches to soccer, cricket, hockey and American football teams but in the Craigavon area we offer no provision to our huge GAA community. The GAA section of the report includes a continuous reference to Sport England and Rugby Football Union guidance which begs the question as to what consultation actually took place with the GAA. The failure to equality proof this policy is of major concern,” said Cllr Nelson who asked for the report to be pulled. She said she was ‘stunned’ when the SDLP proposed the recommendations be accepted. The strategy went through with the support of the SDLP, UUP, DUP and Alliance.”
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Craigavon SDLP Cllr Declan McAlinden said: “Sinn Fein put forward a proposal to have an Equality Impact Assessment on the council’s play pitch strategy after having sat for three years developing the proposal without once questioning the process.
“Their (Sinn Fein’s) motive is unknown but their proposal doesn’t have the support of the Ulster GAA council, local clubs or schools. In fact, their proposal would only have delayed the implementation of the plans, and potentially put at risk, the existing developments.”