Work on potential GAA field in east Belfast halted due to ‘concerns about social media comments’

The conversion of an “underused” football field to a GAA field in east Belfast has been halted due to “concerns about some social media posts that have come up in connection with the work” in recent days.

According to Belfast city council member Simas de Faoyt, work to “renewal” a site in Victoria Park in the city has been halted for the time being.

Speaking on the BBC Evening Extra, the SDLP spokesman declined to “go into details” about other potential local locations for new Gaelic courses due to “comments from people who would rather try to disrupt the GAA in East Belfast”. .

East Belfast’s GAA Club, founded in May 2020, has expressed interest to the council in finding a more regular practice and match ground after renting various council premises over the past two years.

Frequent grounds that have been used by all four of the club’s codes – men’s and women’s Gaelic football, hurling and camogie – include the Woodlands in west Belfast, Dub and Cherryvale playing fields, with the latter already in use by Belfast’s south side. Saint Malachy. GAC and the Co Down Bredagh team.

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

“All of our pitches are open to booking by anyone, so this is not a case of a pitch being open to any particular club or group of people. It would be open to anyone who would like to book it to be able to play in the GAA,” he said.

Peter McReynolds, East Belfast’s Alliance Party MLA spokesman, added that East Belfast’s GAA has been advised that Victoria Park is “currently underused” and one of the park’s three football pitches is being proposed for “refurbishment” for Co Down equipment. .

“Opening a club in Victoria Park has always been an exploratory step,” continued Mr McReynolds.

“Social media may have played some role in all of this, but a very big one, the decision was always going to be passed back to the East Belfast GAA to say ‘Is this okay?’ And by then, a decision will be made on how they will move this forward with council officials.”

He added that the negative comments on social media about the introduction of the GAA field in east Belfast were “very disappointing”.

“I’ve been to GAA East Belfast a couple of times,” he said.

“It is a positive, diverse and inclusive organization. We saw them, for example, at Belfast Pride last week. I think they are a fantastic club and I think they can bring real energy to East Belfast.”

Playgrounds in Victoria Park currently have soccer fields, a bowling alley, and a bike and BMX track.

Initial work to install the GAA field at the main football ground has already begun and the lines and markings for the Gaelic games have already been laid.

The Belfast Telegraph also understands that the Ulster GAA was supposed to help post messages and maintain the site.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for the Belfast City Council said: “The council is working to identify a suitable location for the East Belfast GAA, but no final decision has yet been made. Work will continue with both the East Belfast GAA and local councilors to achieve this.

“Some of the initial preparatory work that began at Victoria Park has now been put on hold pending further action.”

A spokesman for the East Belfast GAA club said: “We are currently awaiting official confirmation of the status of the proposed GAA pitches.

“Until we receive confirmation from Belfast City Council, we will not make any further comment on this matter.”