€500,000 ‘ringfenced’ for pitch spent on road worksMay 29, 2012 - 7:30am
BY ENDA CUNNINGHAM
A GAA club in the Westside has fallen victim to the massive overspend on the Seamus Quirke Road project – it has emerged that €500,000 ‘ringfenced’ for a new pitch to be delivered was instead spent on the road.
St Michael’s GAA Club has already lost around one-fifth of its underage players and its entire ladies’ team because they have to find other pitches on which to play.
The club now has to rely on the local authority being able to find funding within its own constrained coffers – it has been branded “another City Council fiasco” by one local councillor.
The claims have been rejected by a Council official, who said the club were under a “misapprehension” about what the money was to be used for.
The club lost 3.5 metres of its pitch under the Seamus Quirke Road widening plan, but was promised a new regulation size pitch, along with a new soccer pitch and running track.
At a meeting in City Hall last week, it emerged that the €500,000 – which the club argues was secured in 2010 for the development of the new pitch – had been spent on the road.
Ollie Hester, Chairman of St Michael’s Football Club, told the Sentinel: “€500,000 was allocated for the provision of a new running track, football pitch and soccer pitch. Because some of the existing pitch was used for the road, we don’t have a regulation-sized pitch.
“Our senior games are away or in Pearse Stadium, our ladies club has moved to Spiddal and the underage games are played in South Park or St Mary’s. We thought we’d be back on a pitch of our own this year. All we want is a full-sized pitch,” said Mr Hester.
Local area councillor Padraig Conneely, who is also the Chair of the Recreation and Amenity Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) said: “This is a major setback for the clubs that use the pitch. There are already changing rooms and a clubhouse there. St Michael’s are the hardest hit by the massive overspend and months and months of delays on Seamus Quirke Road. It’s yet another City Council fiasco.”
However, Ciarán Hayes Director of Services for Transportation, Infrastructure, Recreation and Amenity with the City Council denied the €500,000 had been specifically allocated for the construction of the new sports facilities.
“The money was spent as part of the Seamus Quirke Road project and the excavation work on the pitch. They [St Michael’s] may have been under the misapprehension that it was for the pitch itself. There were some monies available, but certain costs were incurred on the pitch itself and in that entire area [during road construction].
“We are currently preparing tender documents for the redevelopment of these areas, but funding is scarce as everybody knows. Any funding will be from our own resources. We have to go through the tender process to determine the costs involved,” Mr Hayes told the Sentinel.
Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel