In light of recent developments related to the Lakeview Astro pitch project – we have noted the erection of signs in Lakeview and the village relating to the retention of a grass pitch in the village, Claregalway GAA would like to communicate with our members and the wider community to clarify the situation, be transparent and address any questions or misconceptions relating to this project.
The Club embarked on the Astro project following consultation with our various club committees (Ladies, Juvenile, Men, Coaching and Development Committees) and following ratification at our AGM in January 2019. At that AGM, 3 options were considered in some detail and unanimous support was given to developing a full size astro pitch on the Lakeview site. After the AGM, Club officers and our Development committee consulted with community partners and took advice from other communities that had completed similar projects. A joint committee including Club representatives, Colaiste Baile Chláir, Irish Language activists (Gaeltacht an tEachreidh), engineers and local community members, was established to advance various technical, financial and public aspects of the project. This committee represents the interests of our 1900 members, 1100 students in the College, their families and teachers, Educate Together and Claregalway National school whose combined student population is over 550. This project has the support from local Irish language activists, who are committed to promoting the language locally and the Club is committed to working with them in this regard. This Committee engaged Cairde Mór CTR, as a Community Development, not-for-profit organisation with a track record of procuring grants and public funding to incorporate the interests of all of the above in an application for grant aid to Roinn na Gaeltachta.
The signage displaying the slogan “Keep our Grass pitch in Claregalway Village” was not erected by the Club, any of the local Schools, Residents Associations, Parent Groups or Claregalway Community Groups.
See below for summary of the key dates, meetings and chronology of the project from the AGM in January 2019 to October 2021.
Over that time, Club officers and the Development Committee have progressed this project as directed by our membership which was the democratic decision of club members. Support and commitment for this project has been reiterated with further club approvals at AGMs in 2020 and 2021. All approvals from the Club for ongoing pursuit of this project were sought from the Club and each such request was met by a consistent response from members to “get on with it“ as the facility was urgently required to meet the urgent expanding needs of our Club, as it was for the needs of the schools and College. This facility was costed at €1m and a grant application has been processed with Roinn na Gaeltachta to fund possibly up to 60% of the project cost.
Three planning applications related to this project were submitted & approved by Galway County Council. These applications followed all the required publication and notification requirements and met all technical and planning queries raised by the Council. A public meeting and information evening was held on October 16th 2019 at the Community Centre which was attended by local residents. Modifications suggested in this forum were incorporated in a subsequent planning application.
The E -Tender Process, identifying a contractor to build the facility was completed earlier this year and the Grant and Financial Model is in place to commence construction in mid-2022.
In July of this year, we were made aware by Lakeview Trustees, who hold the Lakeview grounds in trust for Claregalway GAA Club, that they were receiving contact from some local residents opposing the project, who asked the Trustees not to sign the lease of the ground to the grant applicants. The Club engaged with the Trustees to address all questions raised and this process concluded with confirmation that the Trustees would support the project and sign the lease to Cairde Mór. The Trustees asked that Club officers to meet any individuals or groups opposing the project to see if the situation could be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
Club officers met this week with three individuals who claimed to represent the ‘Traditional People of Claregalway’ who are opposed to the removal of the grass playing surface in Lakeview. We understand that there are often differing views on large projects such as this and it is important to list to all views and opinions. The Club have offered these individuals the opportunity to present their views to the Club’s AGM. Their views are at odds with the Club’s development plan for Lakeview which is already incorporated in the Club’s 10 year Plan “Towards 2030” and was adopted at our AGM in January 2019. We believe that the correct forum to amend or change the Club’s development plans is at a Club AGM with the support and in agreement with the majority decision of that meeting.
As it stands, it is the intention of the Club and the Community Partners to proceed, as democratically mandated with our Plans, which the members have worked so hard to deliver over the years. The consequences of delay or division at this time will mean the loss of this extensive, modern and future-proof facility to Claregalway, the loss of substantial grant funding for our community, reputational damage to our club and possible negative consequences for funding community projects in the future. The alternative proposals for Lakeview have been thoroughly evaluated by our club committees and it was concluded that these alternatives do not meet the needs of the Club or the aspirations of Claregalway’s young families for their future.
The concept of a grass pitch in Claregalway village is valid and worthwhile and the Club will extend every effort to ensure that land is secured for one in the future development of the village. The Club will support any group who want to engage in achieving this objective. Claregalway GAA is an open, welcoming and democratic organisation. Over the last 15 years, we’ve made significant progress in putting in place the facilities required to meet the demands of our growing membership and Claregalway community. We have a track record of delivering for our members and community. We are ambitious for the Lakeview site and envisage a vibrant centre of football and community activity at the heart of the village including playground, walkways and expanded Community Hall.
We are now asking for your active support for this project, to make your support known within the community, to local representatives, TDs and councillors.
John Morrin Alan Moran Tony Stephens
Chairman Secretary Treasurer