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Martin O'Neill objects to development of pitch for children near his derelict Donegal property

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18th-century property: Derelict Horn Head House which is near the site of the proposed Dunfanaghy Youth FC development in Co Donegal

18th-century property: Derelict Horn Head House which is near the site of the proposed Dunfanaghy Youth FC development in Co Donegal

A site notice for the football facility adjacent to Horn Head House

A site notice for the football facility adjacent to Horn Head House

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18th-century property: Derelict Horn Head House which is near the site of the proposed Dunfanaghy Youth FC development in Co Donegal

Former Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has lodged an objection against the development of a football pitch for children in Co Donegal.

Dunfanaghy Youths FC, who have been homeless for almost two years, lodged a planning application for an ambitious development at Lurgabrack, Dunfanaghy, in March.

The proposed development consists of a playing pitch, a training pitch, spectator stand, clubhouse and associated facilities.

Mr O'Neill lives in London but owns Horn Head House, a derelict 18th century country house, in the area.

In a written submission to Donegal County Council, he raised a number of concerns, including the impact the development would have on the environment.

"Ultimately Horn Head, a secluded and protected area, with especially high scenic amenity status is simply not appropriate for a large public gathering facility, ie a stadium," said Mr O'Neill.

"First, the environmental impact of erecting stadia in this area of scenic beauty must be recognised. Horn Head is renowned not just locally, not just in Donegal, but also throughout Ireland and would be adversely affected by this proposed development."

Mr O'Neill noted that the wildlife in the area "would be seriously affected by the proposals".

"Access and safety will be compromised by any such stadium construction," he added.

"Further pollution concerns are obvious: traffic congestion, floodlighting and noise pollution."

Dunfanaghy Youths have been homeless since being served with a notice to quit the pitch at Kill where it had been playing for over 25 years.

In December 2018, when it was operating without a home pitch, it won the Donegal Youth League.

The club caters for boys and girls up to Youth League (under-18) level.

In recent times it has been using the pitch at PCC Falcarragh for some home games and the community pitch in Creeslough for small-sided games and some training.

Finn Harps captain Mark Anthony McGinley is a former member of Dunfanaghy Youths, while several players have gone on to play in the Ulster Senior League.

The club - who had over 130 players registered last year - said the proposed development is their "one and only option" to find a home.

Mr O'Neill was a two-time European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest as a player and managed Ireland from 2013 to 2018.

In his submission, dated May 5 last, he outlined his objections under a number of headings including environmental concerns, contravention of development plan guidance, the site's planning history, traffic and pedestrian access and changing the character of Horn Head.

He said that, if permitted, the development would be in use on a daily basis and that "long winter evenings would necessitate the use of floodlighting", which would have a direct impact on wildlife and nearby residents.

The Dunfanaghy Youths application was supported by letters from the FAI and also the Donegal Schoolboys League.

Donegal County Council said a decision on the application is due on July 7.

Irish Independent