DISGRUNTLED residents in the Croke Park vicinity are planning a protest convoy on the main Dublin-Cork road on the morning of tomorrow week’s All-Ireland SFC final which could cause serious delays for fans travelling to the game.
Starting at 8am, 60 vehicles will assemble between the Portlaoise and Monasterevin section of the M7 motorway before making their way back to their local area around Croke Park.
The convoy will include two 18-ton trucks and a handful of other larger vehicles. The protest is the latest move by residents who are furious with the GAA’s plans to revamp the handball and community centre beside the Dublin 3 stadium despite their consistent objections. Local residents are reportedly dismayed that they will be losing a centre which they say has been a hub for the community for over 30 years and of which the GAA has acted as trustees.
Next weekend’s convoy is deliberately aping the actions undertaken by various groups around the country in recent years who were protesting at the downgrading or closure of hospitals in their areas. A ‘Militant Committee’ has also been established which will take “unadvertised and spontaneous actions against Croke Park”, according to Croke Park Streets Committee chairman Eamon O’Brien.
The Tipperary native said yesterday that residents had been continually ignored by both Pairc an Chrocaigh Teoranta and the GAA but that the All-Ireland final day convoy could be called off if some dialogue were to take place before then.
“We are not out to inconvenience the ordinary decent GAA person travelling to the game which is why we are letting people know in advance but we have been left with no other option,” said O’Brien.
“You might ask why we are concentrating on the Cork road and not the Down (M1) one. “Well, the president of the GAA is from Cork and he has consistently ignored us. That is why.”
O’Brien added that the residents had been “treated like fools and trampled on”.
The possibility of taking legal action against either the GAA or PACT has also been mooted.
The GAA responded to news of the planned convoy by insisting that it was a traffic issue and therefore a matter for the gardaí but spokesman Alan Milton said the Association would be “disappointed if Cork supporters were inconvenienced in any way by this”.
“At the end of the day, the GAA are making a €9m investment on this project and it will generate 150 jobs in the inner city if it gets the go-ahead,” said Milton yesterday.
“Handball is a very important part of the association for us and one that offers us an international outlet and we are looking to bring the standard of the facilities in line with others around the country.”
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