OVER 250 angry residents and St Patrick’s GAA officials are to march on City Hall in protest at plans to keep a controversial halting site open.
The protest is set to mar what is due to be the last ever meeting of LImerick City Council in its 800-year history next Monday evening.
Residents and club officials furious at council plans to keep the Rhebogue Halting Site open are to meet at the A1 Bar at 3pm next Monday and march to the 4pm council meeting, where the contentious proposal is on the agenda.
They say if the decision to keep the site open is not reversed, it could spell the end of the neighbouring St Patrick’s GAA Club, which has operated in the city since 1886.
Secretary Colm O’Brien said: “All we want to do is be allowed operate as a club. We just want to get the message across that we are trying to provide games to large numbers of kids, and at times, this is difficult. We just want to provide a service to the community, and at times, it is preventing us from doing that.”
Under the Traveller Accommodation Plan, City Council management is proposing to keep the site open and add new units. This goes against previous policy to close the site on a staged basis.
Fianna Fail councillor Kieran O’Hanlon, who is organising the march, say it is “make or break” for the club.
“Everyone except the people in City Hall think it should close: the site is a total failure. Even the Travellers themselves want to move,” he said.
Both Mr O’Brien and Cllr O’Hanlon have insisted the march is not “anti-Traveller”.
“This is about officialdom. St Patrick’s want their GAA club back,” Cllr O’Hanlon said.
The plans come in spite of clashes between residents, and the club, including one incident where an under-age match had to be abandoned when a Traveller wielding a slash-hook entered the pitch.
The site was raided by the gardai and customs, who recovered illegal cars, scrap metal, unlicensed horses and green diesel. In the plan, the council has itself admitted most residents want to quit the site.
“St Patrick’s GAA is one of the oldest sporting clubs in Limerick and has a long and proud tradition. Its future is in danger if this proposal goes ahead,” Cllr O’Hanlon said, “The council does not manage that site properly: they don’t know who is coming and doing, and this is something officials need to be quite clearly aware of.”
He said he is “determined” the tradition of St Patrick’s GAA will not be lost, and is calling on all members of the community to join the march.
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