Mining company Gyproc has been accused of dividing a Co Monaghan community by linking a promise of new modern GAA facilities with a planning application for a new mine.
The company rejects the accusation and says it will replace the GAA facilities and community centre that were destroyed when part of one of its old mines collapsed last September, whether or not it gets permission for the new mine. However, it acknowledges that it will only proceed with the higher spec plans for a significantly upgraded suite of facilities if the mine goes ahead.
Councillor Colm Carthy said the company’s stance would put the community in an impossible position.
“It’s an extremely divisive move. There are a lot of people who have serious concerns about Gyproc getting permission for any new mine when so many questions still remain about what happened last September but now, if they object to that, they’ll be ruining the GAA’s chance of getting the facilities they were promised,” he said.
“Those facilities were to be world class, top of the range, the best of everything. Now Gyproc is saying if they don’t get their new mine, they’ll replace what was destroyed on a like for like basis. That will be basic.”
Gyproc had approached Magheracloone GAA Club prior to last September’s incident with a proposal to relocate the clubhouse and playing fields to free up the land for a new open cast mine. The club is set on land above the old Dromgossatt gypsum mine which still retains valuable deposits of gypsum which could be accessed by open cast methods.
Last September, the site and buildings were destroyed by dramatic sinkholes, cracks and crevices after massive amounts of water were pumped into the Drumgossatt mine from the adjacent Drummond mine during a flooding emergency and the water weakened the old mine structure, causing support pillars to collapse.
The GAA club has been in temporary accommodation since but has been looking forward to a new permanent location complete with modern facilities. Gyproc set out its latest position at a residents’ forum meeting this week. The company is putting together its designs for the new mine, GAA facilities and community centre and intends submitting a single planning application for the entire project early next year.
In a statement, Gyrpoc said replacement of the Maghereracloone GAA Club and community centre facilities was not in question.
“Gyproc’s commitment to ensure this happens has not waivered and remains in place,” it said. However it said that the proposals for “a significantly upgraded and state of the art facility ... form part of a planned wider investment in the area.”
“This upgraded and state- of-the-art facility, pending the wider investment, is Gyproc’s preferred option and would be part of the company’s commitment to the area and community that it has been part of for over 80 years.
“This investment plan also includes the development, subject to planning permission, of an open cast mine on Gyproc lands, the lands formerly used for the Magheracloone GAA Club and community centre, and acquisition by Gyproc of the relevant lands that it does not currently own to facilitate the development of the mine,” it said.
Investigations into September’s incident continue.