East Belfast consultation needed on GAA pitch, says councillor

By Michael Fitzpatrick
BBC News NI

  • Published
Image source, Getty Images / Piaras Ó Mídheach

Proper consultation with the community is needed before a GAA pitch is located in east Belfast, a councillor has said.

Work on a proposed Gaelic pitch at Victoria Park has been stopped by the council after plans received a mixed response on social media.

It is one location being considered by the council for use by East Belfast GAA club.

Ulster Unionist Party councillor John Kyle said the proposal had not yet come before councillors.

"There are Gaelic pitches in east Belfast, Gaelic is a part of the broader culture here, east Belfast is a changing area.

"But we do need to recognise we are coming out of 30 years of civil conflict, there still are tensions within the community between communities and therefore it needs to be handled carefully.

"If there is to be a GAA pitch in east Belfast then there will be proper consultation with the local community, their views will be sought.

"There will be an equality impact assessment done, we will look at the various ramifications and we will also seek the views of the local councillors as well."

Image caption,
UUP councillor Dr John Kyle called for the local community to be consulted on the GAA pitch

Dr Kyle described it as a "contentious issue" and called for "community peace" to be maintained.

The outline of a pitch has already been marked out in an area of the park, which is near Belfast City Airport.

However after a number of comments on social media, Belfast City Council revealed work has been stopped to allow for further talks with the club and local political representatives.

SDLP councillor Seámas De Faoite said there was a growing demand for GAA facilities in east Belfast.

Image caption,
Councillor Seámas De Faoite said the East Belfast GAA club had built positive relationships in the area

"It's very clear that the GAA has established a really positive working relationship in the area," he said.

"We want to be able to see that develop and anybody who tries to put that back for any backward nonsense to try to return to the politics of the past frankly doesn't belong to the character of east Belfast."

A spokesperson for the council said: "The council is working to identify a suitable location for East Belfast GAA but no final decision has been taken.

"Work will continue with both East Belfast GAA and local councillors to progress this.

"Some initial preparatory work which had started at Victoria Park has now been halted pending further engagement."

East Belfast GAA said it had received no official confirmation regarding the status of the proposed GAA pitches at Victoria Park.

"Until such a time that we receive confirmation from Belfast City Council, we will be making no further comment regarding this issue," the club said.