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Grant blocked over old IRA gate tribute at GAA ground

By David Young

Published 03/06/2016

DUP councillors objected to a leisure committee recommendation to approve funding for a proposal by the Friends of Glenarriff community group for the £600,000 centre
DUP councillors objected to a leisure committee recommendation to approve funding for a proposal by the Friends of Glenarriff community group for the £600,000 centre

A row has erupted in the Glens of Antrim over the names of IRA men on gates leading to a GAA ground and a new community centre.

The uproar has resulted in a block being put on a proposed £180,000 Causeway Coast and Glens Council grant to help fund a community facility on land the gates give access to.

DUP councillors objected to a leisure committee recommendation to approve funding for a proposal by the Friends of Glenarriff community group for the £600,000 centre.

The delay is likely to mean the group will also miss a deadline for funding under the Spaces and Places programme.

The community group has already raised more than £100,000 towards the construction of the £600,000 centre.

The organisation has leased a part of the GAA's grounds, but two IRA men killed in 1922 are named on the gates which lead into the ground, and it is that republican link which has annoyed the DUP.

DUP councillor Sam Cole said that the commemoration of IRA men Charlie McAllister and Pat McVeigh on the gates was offensive to unionists, and meant that the facility could not be fully cross-community.

He felt that there was a Section 75 equality issue at stake, which is why the DUP had asked for the grant to be referred to the council's legal team.

Independent councillor Padraig MacShane, who represents the area, said passions were running very high in the Glens over the issue.

"Filibustering and stalling by the DUP means that there is now very little chance of the community group meeting the deadline for Spaces and Places funding," he said.

On the matter of the IRA men's names, Mr MacShane said: "The two boys that were shot dead by British forces were central characters within the organisation in that area. It's asking people to give up their identity, their history, their culture."

The council's legal team is checking to see if the proposal meets legal and policy guidelines.

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