Handball club to petition GAA

Mon, Oct 22, 2012, 01:00

A NATIONAL petition has been launched by members of a handball centre next to Croke Park in Dublin calling on the GAA not to sue them following a dispute over their club.

Members of the Community and Handball Centre club on St Joseph’s Avenue near the Hill 16 entrance into Croke Park are calling on GAA members and supporters nationwide to sign the online petition.

The GAA, through its company Páirc an Chrócaigh Teo, has begun legal action against the trustees of the centre and its 400 members for failing to vacate the existing handball sports club, which it plans to redevelop.

An Bord Pleanála granted permission in August 2011 for the €9 million redevelopment, which is almost three times the size of the existing centre and includes some 500sq m of office space in addition to five handball courts and community facilities.

While the GAA demonstrated ownership of the site to the planning board, members of the club maintained they had raised funds locally to construct the centre building in the 1970s and the GAA had donated the property to them as part of that development.

The club had opposed the redevelopment of the centre and members are seeking a legal agreement from the management at Croke Park that they will provide full replacement facilities in the new building before they agree to vacate the existing one.

Club spokesman Eamon O’Brien said the legal action put enormous pressure on members and their families.

Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna said the GAA owned the centre “lock, stock and barrel” and it was frustrating that an approved programme of works could not go ahead because of individuals. Because it was a club in occupation of the centre there was no body corporate to sue. Individuals had to be sued to get the club to vacate, he said.