Residents will have access to ultra-modern GAA base

Residents will have access to ultra-modern GAA base

6 September 2017

MEMBERS of the local community will have access to a new GAA centre of excellence proposed for land at the former Ballykinlar army base.

Last month, ambitious plans were outlined for a multi-million pound facility that will include five floodlit pitches, changing facilities, a gymnasium, handball courts, an auditorium and a new administrative base which will become the main hub for Down GAA in the county.

Access to the proposed development on land adjacent to Ballykinlar GAC’s Commons Road base will be via the club’s existing ground.

While there are no detailed plans or costings available for the ultra-modern facility, the proposed development has generated a wave of excitement among clubs across the county.

At Monday night’s monthly meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down Council, a senior council official confirmed that the Down County Board is keen to see the proposed new facilities being used by the community.

Recreation Director Michael Lipsett said the County Board wanted to work in partnership with the local authority to ensure maximum use of the proposed facility.

In response to a question from Slieve Croob councillor Mark Murnin, the council official said local authority representatives had already met with the Down County Board to discuss the Ballykinlar proposal.

He said assurances had also been given that if the new development encroaches on the existing soccer pitch in the village, GAA officials and council officers will work to source a replacement.

“The Down County Board approached us to say they are building these state-of-the-art facilities and I would certainly anticipate that the community will have full access to them,” continued Mr Lipsett.

Also on Monday night, Cllr Henry Reilly raised the issue of access to the firing ranges at the former army base.

He said he had no issue with the GAA’s proposed centre of excellence and revealed it was his understanding that only a small portion of the base will be required to facilitate the proposed development.

“I would like the Down County Board and others involved to please remember that there are many sporting bodies, especially the National Rifles Association, who are concerned that they could be excluded from Ballykinlar if access to the firing ranges is not maintained for them,” he remarked.

“It would be nice if we could sit round a table and find out exactly what is proposed, the amount of ground involved and how other interested parties can be facilitated in Ballykinlar where the firing range is widely regarded as one of the best of its kind in the British Isles.”

At the conclusion of the discussion, Mr Lipsett said a detailed report will be tabled at this month’s meeting of the local authority’s Active and Healthy Communities Committee dealing with the various issues which have been raised in relation to the Ballykinlar proposal.

He said it was his understanding that the GAA proposal will not have any impact on the firing ranges.