Protect Gaelic Games, our heritage and our culture in Warwickshire
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Pairc na hEireann is an excellent example of sport, heritage and culture blended together in harmony. The design changes, proposed by Highways England regarding the M42 Junction 6 Improvement Scheme, will destroy this harmony.
Gaelic games are a minority, amateur sport, brought to Warwickshire by the Irish Diaspora who settled here and introduced the games and their cultural heritage, to their families and the wider community. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is recognised as one of the great amateur sporting associations in the world. Gaelic Games are part of the Irish consciousness and play an influential role in Irish society that extends far beyond the basic aim of promoting Gaelic games. The GAA is still exclusively, an amateur Association. Players, even at the highest level, do not receive payment for playing and the volunteer ethos remains one of the most important aspects of the GAA. Jimmy Deenihan, when he was Irish Minister for the Diaspora to the Irish Government and winner of five All-Ireland football championship finals with his native County Kerry said that the GAA is “the glue that attached people to their homeland,” this is very true in Warwickshire.
The Warwickshire Irish community is multi-generational collective, encompassing many strands of Irish heritage. We currently have the highest number of English born adults, ladies and men, playing Gaelic Games competitively in the UK. Many are third generation Irish. This is a result of the tireless work that has been done in Warwickshire to keep Gaelic Games alive and accessible to new generations of players and spectators. Communities must be allowed to grow and shape their environment; Pairc na hEireann’s environment and accessibility to it, are key to the sustainability of our games. We feel strongly that the new proposals will impact negatively on both the environment and the accessibility of Pairc na hEireann.
Without people (players and spectators) we will have no games.
The design changes proposed by Highways England will have a hugely damaging effect on Pairc na hEireann, our stakeholders and consequently the sustainability of Gaelic Games (a minority sport), in Warwickshire.
• We currently have three full size pitches; the new proposals see a 2000 car-per-hour, four lane dual carriage within five metres of pitch one, (our main County pitch), pitch two will be covered in concrete and pitch three will be reduced to a juvenile training pitch.
• The new proposals will mean an increase in noise and air pollution from the close proximity of pitches to the dual carriageway. This will have a negative impact on the hearing, lungs and performance of all users and visitors to Pairc na hEireann. This is especially concerning for the hundreds of juvenile players using the ground each week.
• Our hugely important monument to deceased members, currently symbolically situated at the highest point on our facility, will have to be re-sited.
• Competitive hurling games will be played on pitch one; sliothars (Hurling balls) travel at over 150km/h (93 mph) and over 110m (361ft). The close proximity of pitch one to the dual carriageway under the new proposals, presents a major health and safety concern.
• No thought to the current safety features of our site with our nearest pitch being placed 30 metres away from the B road.
• Land adjacent to Pairc na hEireann is unsuitable;
o Underneath Birmingham Airport flight path (to the north)
o Disused landfill site, completed before safe dumping regulations were in place (to the west)
o Underground oil pipeline of national infrastructural importance serving Birmingham Airport (to the south).
The Trustees and Officers of Warwickshire County Board believe the only viable solution, to preserve the sporting facilities, heritage, cultural fabric and harmony of our current facilities, is a well-executed, relocation of our grounds. A well-executed Compulsory Purchase Order leaves the individual in no worse off state, this cannot be said of Highway England’s current proposals for Pairc na hEireann.
On behalf of our stakeholders we must ensure that we maintain the equivalent benefits and accessibility of our current grounds for current members and for future generations. Relocation, relocation, relocation!!!
With this in mind we ask you to write to the Secretary of State for Transportation, outline our fears and concerns and seek reassurance that our minority Sport, our heritage and our culture will be protected.
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