Derry’s Christmas gifts to the GAA

Discussions in Derry City Council has discussed gifting another GAA club a parcel of seven acres of land, in the Waterside. Unionist councillors estimate that the value of the combined deal would come to £300,000. Gregory Campbell: “Within two weeks, we have two Gaelic clubs, both in Londonderry, both getting effectively free gratis, either land or land at a nominal rent, and other sporting disciplines have major applications in before the council that have not yet been decided upon.”

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • oceallaigh

    Derry City Council should be highly commended for their support of any facility that promotes athletics or sport for the young citizens of Derry .These sports facilities are desperately needed in these areas which were deprived for many, many years.All right thinking members of the Derry community should be happy to see the young people so involved in such a healthy pastime and what could be better for them than a good game of Gaelic football or soccer for that matter.The unionist naysayers should understand that idle hands throw stones and should be glad all these young men are involved in this very worthwhile pastime and full credit to all the people within the community that are so committed to youth sports by volunteering their time and energies.It really is an investment in the city`s future in all respects for a relatively small price .

  • No doubt that is true, and it’s an encouraging contrast to the selling off of school playing fields in England and Wales.

    But Campbell’s point is not an argument against giving land to GAA clubs so much as there being no visible committment to other multi-denominational sports.

  • oceallaigh

    Derry City Council has a reputation of fairness and inclusiveness that could be an example to many local councils in the north of Ireland some of them dominated by the DUP . Campbell is trying to infer there is not a level playing field so to speak for people of different political persuasions within the city.I am very confident that if a soccer club from the unionist section of Derry approached the council with a similar proposal as the GAA club and the land was available they would have no problem getting it under the same circumstances .Before the GAA club approached council it had already secured funding from the government that had acknowledged there was a need for the facilities .Check out the rest of the story from the Derry Journal at this link… .You also have to remember that Derry is a city of over 100,000 people,at least 80% Nationalist with thousands of young people in the city and county playing Gaelic Football on a daily basis ,the need for these facilities is there .

  • Carlos

    I am a Protestant and support the GAA, the foundrers of the GAA were Protestants and theres nothing sectarian about it.

  • Bretagne

    Oceallaigh –
    I have no objection to the council offering land on long term favorable leases to sporting clubs – but it should be on the basis that ownership of the asset is retained for all ratepayers. The Doire Trasna offer is valid – the offer to give the land in the Creggan was, as I understand it, basically vesting the ground to the club. I object to a gift of an asset – fifty years from now that piece of ground may be needed for all sorts of uses and a future council/authority would not be able to utilize that asset at that time – this does not prohibit the club developing the facilities in the meantime – but in the knowledge that it is on a leaseholder basis.

    In fact – I think all councils should be encouraged to offer more ground on long-term leases and allow clubs to develop them while the grants are still available.

    The problem with the DUP position is that they are partially right – it is the gift of free land that’s the issue not the recipient – which they have focused on, Make the offer on a leasehold basis and you make it equitable.

    There are some aspects of the GAA (as was) that I don’t care for – but one thing you have to admire and I know rugby people admire – is the ability of the GAA clubs to drive membership, fundraising and development of facilities and youth programmes. The GAA is the largest youth club in many of our towns – so the work needs to be enabled and encouraged – but lets have some corporate responsibility from the council – the land belongs to ratepayers – not individual clubs – be they GAA, Rugby, Hockey or Cricket.


  • GavBelfast

    The Council has a responsibility to the public (ie. ratepayers’) purse.

    But if they have come over all charitable and this is a new and far-sighted policy which is justified, it’s in the Council’s gift to show in the months to come how fair their policy is.

    We’ll see.

  • Visioneer

    What about other Sports?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    It is up to the council to provide a list of the help it has afforded to other sporting organisations within their catchment area.

    There should be a transparent and equitable allocation of facilities based on the participation within individual sporting organisations.

  • Bretagne


    The councils problem is that it while it owns the land it does not have a mechanism to develop the land into something useful.

    By all means offer land at a reduced rent to all sports and facilitate development of facilities – but I object to it being charity and the transfer of ownership.

    Suppose the clubs (GAA or otherwise) cannot raise the funds and decide to sell the land to a developer and relocate to a cheaper site? I as a taxpayer will have lost out.

    Visioneer – 100% agree. I object to what the council is doing in giving away land – but it it insists in giving it – I would support it being given to all and support legal action against them if they don’t.

    In fact the Orange Order should now apply for some free land to have a large permanent marching geound, and field for the twelfth – with toilets and parking, some bandstands, meeting points, even security fencing, and flagpoles – fantastic facility – and given the tradition of moving the big day around – the OO should apply to all 26 councils.

    Giving away public land is irresponsible to whomever – retain public ownership so that the land reverts to the ratepayer at the end of the lease..

  • Ben A

    It’s wrong for DCC to even consider disposing of land with a value to the rates payer. If the GAA Cumann wants the site, they should be prepared to pay a market rate for it, in the same way I would.

    Or, they should develop the site for the GAA and charge them rent.

    Seems to me, that there ought to be at least consideration of making the site avalable to an CLG, but certainly no land should be gifted to any organisation.

  • Visioneer

    It’s pretty ridiculous all this. I don’t know the details, but it seems most unfair. What about a city for everyone?

    Is equality not taken into these decisions?

    I am sure that there must be some legal route opponents can take.

    On this issue its all about being the ‘greenist’. The SDLP are seeking to ‘out green’ Sinn Fein and in opposing these plans they may offend their electorate or allow Sinn Fein a political stick to beat them with.

    But thats besides the point…what has happened to equality? Back to the point I have raised above in terms of promoting fairness and equality why then not give something to another sporting group or even better use the previously granted area of land as a sporting ground for all sports and hence promoting inclusiveness, community and above all healthy living.

  • aquifer

    This is all very interesting, as the basis of nationalist unionist politics has been to apply the resources of the state to the betterment of one or the other sectarian group. When the market allocates more resources than the state, and when the state has laws against unfair discrimination, it will be interesting to see the outworking of some of these issues. We have already had councillors threatened with personal surchanges in NI, in Craigavon and Newry and Mourne, and may do again. Maybe it will take the lawyers to shred binary sectarian politics over time. It would be worth a few pennies on the rates to pay them to do it.

  • loyalist

    This seems a pretty clear cut case of discrimination. Then they do it again just to stick two fingers up. There are 2 possible responses, one is to shout discrimination, the other is to wait and do the same thing back when we get the chance. Today’s Unionists are finally getting fly enough to do both.
    Gotta love the style!

  • P Ring

    Derry GAA has traditionally drawn it’s county talent from the country rather than the city. South Derry is especially potent and clubs like Ballinderry, Bellaghy and the Loup have always been strong. The city of course has always been a place where soccer is stronger. Even the main GAA school, St Columbs, have never played to their full potential. I welcome this initiative and believe it will go a good deal of the way towards establishing Derry’s position as a top GAA county and perhaps seeing national honours (like Sam in ’92) coming north even more regularly.However I do hope that both the clubs who have benefited from these munificent gestures are as committed to the small ball as the big one.Hurling should not be left out.
    Discrimination? Come one come all.

  • Paul

    There’s no shortage of soccer pitches in Derry but GAA is badly provided for. Gregory Campbell is bigoted, that’s all there is to it. I can remember Gregory organising demos when it was suggested that gaelic posts be put up on council playing fields in the Waterside(which is @30% Nationalist), and that would have cost the council next to nothing. The DUP just hate to see Taigs getting anything. Perhaps Slugger’s Belfast readers can remember Sammy Wilson’s tiresome objections to the Laganside development, supposedly on grounds of cost, really because he thought Markets’s Taigs might get some benefit. The people in Creggan and Top of the Hill have been working hard for years to get these facilities for youngsters.I don’t even like bogball but I wish them all the luck.