Plans to develop playing pitches in Mervue by St James GAA were given the green light by councillors at Monday’s Galway City Council meeting.
A decision on the development, which is said to have divided the community, was deferred six weeks ago in order to facilitate a public meeting.
Labour councillor Tom Costello said the meeting was a success and as a result he had no contact from anyone opposing the plan. “We decided a public meeting was warranted, it has taken place, and it ran very well,” he said.
A total of 170 submissions were received on the plan, which included concerns over signage, fencing, and traffic management issues. The fencing of the pitches posed a problem for locals as the lands to be developed by St James GAA are public lands, to which the public have always had right of access.
Dog fouling was highlighted as the major reason for fencing off the pitches in order to protect players and those using the facility.
Fine Gael’s Cllr Frank Fahy said fencing the pitch was necessary. “I wouldn’t have my children playing on a pitch where they could fall in dog poop,” he said.
Concerns over fencing the facility were also raised by Independent Cllr Catherine Connolly who was wary about setting precedents over the fencing of public property:
“This is about setting the criteria for the use of public space,” she said. “We now have a case where public land is being fenced off. What happens if other parks come forward and look to be fenced off. If we are fencing to protect the ground we will have to fence every green space in the city.”
In support of her sister, Labour’s Cllr Colette Connolly said: “If we want to keep dogs off public lands we should start with fencing off the Prom.”
Director of services Ciarán Hayes said the council could only take the fencing of lands in a case-by-case basis, indicating it was necessary in the case of the pitches at Mervue.
Fine Gael’s Cllr Hildegarde Naughton meanwhile raised concerns over signage and requested there be sufficient public notices to inform the public that the area is a public facility. Cllr Naughton feared that the information may become lost over time.
A vote on the proposal to pass the development of the lands by Cllr Fahy was seconded by Cllr Costello and passed by 14-1, with councillor Cllr Colette Connolly voting against the plan.