Work on potential east Belfast GAA pitch halted due to ‘concerns around social media commentary’

The conversion of an “underutilized” football pitch into a GAA pitch in east Belfast has been halted in recent days over “concerns over some social media posts that have emerged related to the work”.

According to Belfast City Councilor Seamas deFaoite, work to “transform” a site in Victoria Park in the city has been halted for the time being.

Speaking to the BBC’s Evening Extra programme, the SDLP representative declined to go into “details” about other potential local sites for new Gaelic pitches due to “the comments from people who would much rather try to stop GAA doing it to take place in East Belfast’. .

East Belfast GAA club, formed in May 2020, had expressed an interest to the council in finding a more regular place to train and play games, having rented various council venues over the past two years.

Common playing fields which have been used by all four codes of the club – Gaelic football for men and women, hurling and camogie – include Woodlands in West Belfast, The Dub and Cherryvale Playing Fields, the latter having been played by St Malachy’s in South Belfast will be shared GAC and Co Down Team Bredagh.

Cllr deFaoite stressed that Belfast City Council has a policy “that does not give any particular club or team a home ground”.

“All of our pitches can be booked by anyone so this would not have been a case where a pitch was open to a specific club or group of individuals. It would have been open to anyone who wanted to book it to play GAA,” he said.

Alliance Party MLA for East Belfast Peter McReynolds added that East Belfast GAA has been advised that Victoria Park is “currently underutilized” with one of the park’s three football pitches given to the Co Down team for “transformation” is offered.

It was “always an exploratory move to have the club in Victoria Park,” Mr McReynolds continued.

“Social media may have played some role in all of this, but the decision has always been handed back to East Belfast GAA to say, ‘Is this suitable?’ And the decision will be made by then as they move this forward with the council officials.”

He added that negative comments on social media regarding the launch of a GAA space in East Belfast have been “quite disappointing”.

“I’ve been to East Belfast GAA a few times now,” he remarked.

“It is a positive, diverse and inclusive organization. For example, we saw them at Belfast Pride just last week. I think it’s a fantastic club and I think they can bring a real energy to East Belfast.”

The playing fields in Victoria Park currently have football pitches, a bocce court and a cycling and BMX track.

Initial work to install a GAA pitch on the main football pitch had already begun, with lines and markings for Gaelic games already being drawn.

The Belfast Telegraph also understands that the Ulster GAA organization should help provide posts and support for the site.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for Belfast City Council said: “Council is working to find a suitable site for East Belfast GAA but no final decision has been made. Work continues with both East Belfast GAA and local councils to drive this forward.

“Some initial preparatory work which had begun at Victoria Park has now been shelved pending further engagement.”

A spokesman for the East Belfast GAA club said: “It appears we are awaiting official confirmation on the status of the proposed GAA spots.

“Until we receive confirmation from Belfast City Council we will not be making any further comments on the matter.” Work on potential east Belfast GAA pitch halted due to ‘concerns around social media commentary’

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