Chief appeals for calm in Handball row
Chris Curran, the National Manager for GAA Handball, believes that the continued hold-ups and objections are scuppering the country’s ability to host the prestigious World Handball Championships next year.
The GAA has plans in place for a new €8 million handball complex on the site of the existing handball centre adjacent to Croke Park. However, a series of objections from local residents groups mean that the project is still being held up by red tape.
A letter had last week been sent to the Queen of England on behalf of the Croke Park Streets Committee and signed by the group’s chairman Eamon O’Brien, asking for her to raise their concerns when she met this week with GAA officials.
Curran though is stern in his belief that the facilities being offered far surpass those which are currently available, the building having been originally constructed in 1970 for the hosting of the World Championships. It is now dilapidated and in dire need of an overhaul, to the point where 18 months ago Handball authorities pulled the All-Ireland championships from the venue due to the poor conditions.
“The community groups currently use one of the alleys for their activities. In the new building, they would have access to a new sports hall which would house activities such as karate, boxing and dancing, It would also have changing rooms, a kitchen and other facilities which would be totally accessible to the local community.”
The biggest issue for the local residents appears to be that what they refer to as ‘social facilities,’ namely the bar, will not be incorporated as part of the new build project.
The GAA own the building, but it has been on a long-term lease to a group called the Irish Handball Sports and Social Club since 1978. An eviction notice was served on this group in February in order to facilitate demolition work which would allow the new build to proceed.
Despite receiving the green light from Dublin City Council last year, the application for the new build is still with An Bord Pleanana, with the GAA already having had to delay the hosting of the World Championships until next Autumn. Any further delay would put the entire event, which will see high-profile members of the Olympic Council in attendance, in jeopardy.