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Residents claiming sympathy by the Lee

ANGRY Croke Park residents say they have received a "sympathetic" response from the Cork GAA grassroots -- despite a planned protest convoy with potential traffic delays for Leesiders travelling to Sunday's All-Ireland SFC final.

The Croke Park Streets Committee are retaliating against GAA plans to demolish the current handball and community centre - against their consistent objections -- to be replaced by an enlarged state-of-the-art handball facility on St Joseph's Avenue.

The residents have now upped the ante by organising Sunday's road convoy, involving up to 60 vehicles and including a couple of trucks: the protest will start from the Monasterevin section of the M7 motorway at 8am and continue towards the environs of Croke Park.

"At the moment it's going ahead," Streets Committee chairman Eamon O'Brien told the Evening Herald.

A meeting is planned for tonight, with residents set to discuss the issue with Gardai while they will also "review the response from Cork".


You would imagine that any traffic disruption is likely to cause uproar among road-using Rebels. However, O'Brien insisted the early start will prevent such delays while ensuring their campaign gets "visibility".

He said every club in Cork has been sent a copy of the Street Committee's 20-page newsletter, setting out "what has happened our community and our club", and they had subsequently received "an enormous response" from the southern county.

"Everybody is sympathetic to us," O'Brien maintained. A lot of them are asking us to call off the thing because it would cause a terrible inconvenience. We are saying it's eight o'clock in the morning - we are not trying to do that. Some of them have (verbally) offered us money to take on the GAA in the courts."

However, Cork county board chairman Jerry O'Sullivan said it would be "wrong" to victimise their fans.


"Whatever the issue, it has nothing to do with Cork supporters. The fact that the (GAA) president happens to be from Cork shouldn't be a factor," O'Sullivan argued.

O'Brien was less complimentary of Christy Cooney's (pictured above) role, claiming the GAA chief had "ignored our people and our community" by not attending three public meetings. He added: "We end up dealing with Páirc an Chrocaigh Teoranta, the corporate wing, and we don't want to deal with them. We want to deal with the amateur wing of the GAA."

The GAA's €9 million project is reportedly set to generate 150 jobs in the inner city, but O'Brien alleged that there is "absolutely nothing for the locals and we are very suspicious about it".

The existing handball centre, which is vested in the GAA, incorporates a social club, bar and charity fundraising facilities and has served the community for several decades.