A controversial proposal by the company promoting the building of wind turbines in north Meath to make a €375,000 payment towards the development of the Meath GAA Centre of Excellence at Dunganny near Trim is to be voted on by more than 100 club delegates next month.
The GAA county board executive has recommended acceptance of the offer of €75,000 a year over the next five years. A vote was to be taken at a meeting of the board on Monday this week but was put off after some delegates objected, saying that they needed to be better informed about the offer so that they could go back to their individual clubs for mandates.
The Meath Wind Information Group (MWIG), which has campaigned against the erection of windfarms locally, reacted with anger over the offer to the GAA by Element Power. The group said the offer was “nothing but an attempt to divide the GAA clubs”.
A spokesperson for the group claimed that if the offer was accepted, it would “finish the GAA in north Meath”. He said that one of the main clubs in the area, St Michael’s in Carlanstown, had been built up through the support of the local community.
He said it was sad that people who were steeped in the GAA tradition were being forced to take positions on this issue.
A spokesperson for Element Power said that as part of the Emlagh Wind Farm proposal, the firm had committed to spending €3.5 million on local projects and initiatives over the lifetime of the project, which includes support for local enterprise as well as making grants available for third-level education.
“Element Power is presently drawing up a Community Benefit Programme having entered into an extensive consultation programme with various community groups, voluntary associations and other stakeholders in north Meath. This would obviously include the GAA. In addition to the Community Benefit Programme as set out, Element Power has entered discussions with Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Coiste na Mí regarding a potential sponsorship programme to support the development of the games at grassroots and underage level,” the company spokesperson added.
On Monday night, the GAA county board executive made a recommendation to those present and they will be going back to seek a mandate from their clubs. A vote will be taken at the next county board meeting in Summerhill next month.
* Full story in this week's Meath Chronicle