The GAA has teamed up with Dublin City Council as part of a reconstruction project for the Sackville Avenue area beside Croke Park, writes Stephen Barry.
The area located behind the Cusack Stand is home to the Croke Villas, which would be demolished and replaced by a new entrance to Croke Park, new housing and the building of a “world class” National Handball and Community Centre.
As a result of the development, the 28-year-long dispute between Croke Park authorities and the Irish Handball Council Sports Centre has been brought to an end.
Bertie Ahern had been drafted in as a mediator in the dispute.
The former Taoiseach commented: “I am very pleased to have played a role in clearing the way for the renewal of a part of Ballybough that desperately needs it and in adding an important new mechanism for the GAA and the local community to work together.”
The new handball centre will cost €12 million.
Fintan Farrelly, Chairman of the Irish Handball Council Sports Centre, said: “The local handball and community centre members welcome the spirit of partnership and co-operation that forms the basis of the agreement reached with the GAA.
“We are happy that the long running court case has been resolved.
“We now look forward to a harmonious relationship with the GAA that will be an enormous benefit to the local community and the handball community alike.”
The All-Ireland 60 x 30 semi-finals and finals will take place in the existing facility this year and until the new Centre is built.
The current Community and Handball Centre on St Joseph’s Avenue, just behind the corner joining the Cusack Stand and Hill 16, will then be demolished.
GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail remarked: “The GAA sees the arrangements agreed with Dublin City Council and the local handball community as an opportunity for the GAA to make a further major contribution to the improvement and renewal of the area surrounding Croke Park.
“We look forward to working closely with the local community in the new partnership arrangements.”
The GAA hopes that the new entrance to the stadium will “take pressure off other local streets”.
The project will require planning permission and other approvals, to be sought in the near future.