Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Answer to Jarlath Burns

Recently I noted the speech by Jarlath Burns at a conference in London on Putting Irish Unity on the Agenda.  The conference was sponsored and organised by Sinn Fein and in the course of his address Jarlath Burns, a former GAA player and now a GAA commentator on BBC accused me of thwarting expansion plans for Bryansford GAA 'by a particularly bigoted piece of political chicanery'.
And bringing us right up to date; this week Bryansford GAA are having their expansion plans thwarted by a particularly bigoted piece of political chicanery from the DUP minister of culture, a man who hadn’t even the guts to mention the GAA Ulster championship last summer in a statement promoting the summer of sporting activities in the six counties. And we are still in trouble because some of our grounds are named historically and emotionally after what we would term irish patriots, but who others would call terrorists. Off the field, we just can’t seem to win and this is why we are distinctly uncomfortable in the political arena and nowadays try to avoid it at all costs.
In fact I have had no connection with the matter at all and have sent the following letter to an SDLP MLA who asked me about the Bryansford plans.
Sport Northern Ireland (SNI) is responsible for the development of sport in Northern Ireland including the distribution of funding.  SNI is unaware of any development proposals by Bryansford GAC and has received no applications for funding from the club.
My officials have, however, liaised with their counterparts in the Department of the Environment on the matter and I under stand that a full planning application was submitted in March 2008 for three pitches, training area, stand, terrace, fencing, floodlighting, car parking and ancillary site works at land on Burrenbridge Road, Bryansford.
The application remains under consideration and I am advised a decision will issue as soon as possible.  As you will appreciate it would be inappropriate for me to intervene in the planning process.
Planning comes under the Department of the Environment and the Planning Service and DCAL has no role in the matter.

The facts are plain.  (1) There has been no funding application to either Sport NI or DCAL and (2) I have no role in relation to planning.  So much for Jarlath's accusation of political chicanery!

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