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ABC Council pitch strategy ‘fails to reflect needs of the entire community’

The Council’s play pitch strategy fails to reflect the needs of the entire Craigavon community.

That’s the opinion of the Chair of ABC Council’s Leisure Services Committee, Sinn Féin councillor Catherine Nelson.

A report was commissioned, after requests from Sinn Fein, in a bid to identify need for greater GAA provision in the Craigavon area.

Speaking following the publication of the report, councillor Nelson, said: “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 sited 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 also of major concern.

“Last night we asked for the report to be pulled and were stunned that the SDLP instead proposed the recommendations – not one of which cited the GAA – be accepted. The strategy went through with the support of the SDLP, UUP, DUP and Alliance.

“There will be a second opportunity to pull this strategy at full council and we will not be found wanting on this issue. We will not allow the GAA to be the poor cousin of the Borough.”

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