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Mayo GAA planning saga drags on

McHale Park saga drags on

Daniel Carey

MAYO GAA Board Secretary Seán Feeney expects An Bord Pleanála to rule on the McHale Park, Castlebar planning appeal in the next week.
But the Ballintubber clubman hit out at the length of time it has taken the planning board to make a decision on the controversial broadcasting tower and floodlights at the home of Mayo GAA. “It beggars belief how it has dragged on,” said Feeney, pointing out that it was almost a year since McHale Road residents had lodged their appeal to An Bord Pleanála.
With Mayo’s first National Football League match of 2011 provisionally fixed for Saturday night, February 5, Feeney told The Mayo News it was “a matter of urgency” to get a decision “one way or another”.
Mayo GAA Board need planning chiefs to rule in their favour if the Down match is to be played under floodlights – last February’s National League game against Galway was switched from a Saturday night to a Sunday after no decision was forthcoming from ABP.
Feeney now expects a ruling “by the end of the month”, but criticised the fact that the date for a verdict – originally fixed for April 29, 2010 – had been repeatedly altered.
“I can’t see how this body could consistently change the date without consultation, and without giving a reason. I know that other appeals that went in well after [this one] have been dealt with,” said the full-time official.
Mark Masterson of An Bord Pleanála said both the residents’ appeal over the broadcasting tower and Castlebar Town Council’s referral over whether Mayo GAA Board needed planning permission to move the floodlights from their original intended position were “with the inspector”. The ABP spokesman said the delay in the 11-month consideration period could be attributed to the fact that “there was further information requested” on the matter “early in the year”.
Cllr Michael Kilcoyne, an outspoken critic of the GAA’s handling of the McHale Park development, said the issue “could be resolved in the morning” if the GAA took down the controversial broadcasting tower. He added: “I think they’re a bit presumptuous in scheduling a game [at night], because even when a decision does come, it may not be the one they want. I think it’ll be a good while yet until the lights shine in McHale Park.”