Wednesday 13 December 2017

GAA members quit club in protest after being forced to remove gates commemorating IRA men

The gates at Glenariff GAA club
The gates at Glenariff GAA club

Rebecca Black

Gates commemorating two IRA men at the entrance of a GAA club at the centre of a bitter funding row are to be moved, it has been claimed.

But members at the Oisin's Glenariff GAA have quit in protest, a councillor said on Facebook.

Causeway Coast and Glens Council voted in May to allocate £180,000 to the Friends of Glenariff group to build what was described as a shared community space in the grounds of the GAA club.

The names of IRA men Charlie McAllister and Pat McVeigh - who were killed in 1922, seven months before the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty - are displayed on the gates that lead into the grounds, where the community centre is planned.

Within days, the DUP group on the council called the decision in - a mechanism similar to a veto that forces a legal review - after objecting to the plan.

The decision and funding were frozen while a barrister considers the matter. Tonight the council is set to examine the legal opinion.

Former Sinn Fein councillor Noreen McAllister has claimed the DUP opposed the funding due to the names of the IRA men on the gates, accusing the party of a "vile abuse of power" and "sectarianism".

Last week the club met to vote on a proposal by Friends of Glenariff to remove the gates "in order to advance their funding application".

Writing on her Facebook page, Ms McAllister wrote: "Now the community are told that there was a secret vote taken about relocating these gates and the majority of the votes were in agreement to remove the gates and relocate them to a place where they aren't going to be seen, as I said this is my opinion.

"Unfortunately this has now caused some members resigning from the club and has left a very bitter taste in a lot of the people here in Glenariffe, me included."

DUP councillor Trevor Clarke said that in May the Leisure and Development Committee had considered a plan for a fund to develop leisure and recreation facilities. "On the same agenda there came through an application to that fund by Friends of Glenariff for £180,000," he said.

He added that one reason for opposing the proposal was the lack of robust guidelines for handing the funding out.

"We also felt the process was unfair because by bringing the application from Friends of Glenariff forward ahead of any other call for expression of interest in the funding was placing that applicant at an unfair advantage.

"The third count was on the fact that the centre on which the facility was to be redeveloped is on the grounds of a gated entrance bearing the names of two IRA terrorists from the 1920s.

"On those three grounds we objected - it was not just about the names, although the names obviously are a problem."

No-one from the club could be contacted for comment.

Belfast Telegraph

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