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€9m handball complex gets go-ahead

PLANS to host the handball world championships in Dublin are on track after the GAA got the go-ahead for a €9m sports complex.

Dublin City Council gave permission for the scheme despite opposition in the local community.

The GAA had applied to replace its existing handball sports facility at Croke Park on St Joseph's Avenue with a new development.

When completed, the rebuilt complex will be nearly three times the size of the old centre.

Independent councillor Christy Burke had said there was anger in the local community over what he described as a lack of consultation by the sports organisation before the plans were submitted.

In addition, there had been annoyance as the proposals mean the handball centre's bar, a popular meeting point for elderly people in the area, will be closed, he said.

But Croke Park spokesman Peter McKenna told the Herald they will be replacing an almost derelict building with a €9m development, which will "employ hundreds of people in construction".

He said the bar is actually a members' club, which is not open to the general public.

"I would be very disappointed that (Mr Burke) would be against this. It will bring employment and regeneration to the area. We will be regenerating this centre into a fantastic facility," he said.

Croke Park will be able to host the 2012 World Handball Championships in the new facility.

"We have more world champions in handball than in any other sport. It is probably our most successful international sport," Mr McKenna said.