Warks and Croke Park will ‘fight’ to protect Midlands GAA

Warks and Croke Park fight to protect Midlands GAA

GAA president John Horan says Croke Park and the Warwickshire county board will “fight” to secure the future of the GAA in the Midlands.

New proposals put forward by Highways England would see a relief road, just off junction six of the M42 near Birmingham airport, run straight through Páirc na hÉireann – the home of the GAA in the Midlands.

An offer to relocate Warwickshire GAA to a nearby site, complete with new clubhouse and three pitches, was recently withdrawn by Highways England.

Mr Horan was at Páirc na hÉireann on Sunday for the Warwickshire senior and intermediate championship finals.

Speaking to BBC Midlands Today, Mr Horan said: “We’ve plenty of resolve among the people here (Páirc na hÉireann) and they feel a lot of affinity to here, and I don’t think they’re going to give it up too easy.

“There is a fight. It wasn’t of our making, but we’ll do it.”

Warwickshire county board chairperson Mark McLoughlin said: “The plans that Highways England have at the moment do not leave us in an equivalent position. We feel that offers they’ve made are unworkable and that strengthens our case going to the secretary of state.”

The proximity of the relief road to the main pitch and clubhouse at Páirc na hÉireann was demonstrated on Sunday, with a row of cars lined up to illustrate just how close the road it will be.

Warwickshire GAA is appealing to the ‘GAA Family in the UK’ to get behind its protest.

The new proposals were branded as “unacceptable” by county board secretary Michael Collins when the Irish World broke the story earlier this month.

Warks and Croke Park fight to protect Midlands GAA

People are now being urged to submit responses to the amended proposals before the second public consultation ends on 2 October.

A petition has also been set up by Sean McDermotts GAA club in Birmingham with the club emphasising the need for action to “protect Gaelic Games, our heritage and our culture in Warwickshire”. More than 7300 people have signed the petition.

People are also being asked to enlist the support of their local MP by asking them to write to the Secretary of State for Transport, enquiring why the compulsory purchase of Páirc na hÉireann leaves the 3000 Warwickshire GAA membership and the 12,000 GAA members in a worse position than before the development.

Template letters for people to send to their MPs were handed out at Páirc na hÉireann last Sunday.

Warks and Croke Park fight to protect Midlands GAA

The Warwickshire county board and the trustees for Páirc na hÉireann were last month hit with a “bombshell” when Highways England performed a U-turn on its offer to provide a new state-of-the-art home for the GAA in the Midlands.

The board, the trustees and Croke Park had been led to believe last year that Warwickshire GAA would be relocated to a site near to its existing Páirc na hÉireann grounds, complete with a new clubhouse and three new pitches.

But that offer was withdrawn by Highways England, with Mr Collins told it “stretched the boundaries of compulsory purchase”.

Under the new proposals the concern is that Warwickshire GAA will “lose the tranquilly of the ground” at Páirc na hÉireann, as well as issues of noise and air pollution, access and car parking.

As well as GAA clubs in the Midlands rolling in behind the protest, the Birmingham Irish Association, Irish in Britain and Roscommon GAA are among those to publicly voice their support.

Warks and Croke Park fight to protect Midlands GAA

To voice your opinion to Highways England you can use one of the following methods:

Complete the online response form at: https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/m42-junction-6-improvement-additional-consultation/consultation/intro/

Email directly: m42junction6@highwaysengland.co.uk

Or write to:
Jonathan Pizzey, Senior Project Manager,
M42 Junction 6 Improvement
Highways England, Floor 5,
Two Colmore Square,
B4 6BN

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