19 Aug 2022

Longford GAA refute accusation of secrecy

Search for solution to Pearse Park problems goes on

Longford GAA refute accusation of secrecy
By alan walsh

A Longford GAA County Board official has this week strenuously refuted accusations that they have been secretive in terms of trying to come up with a solution to rectify the problems with the seated stands at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park.

Development & Safety Officer Colm Murray, who was recently appointed to head up the Pearse Park Project Development sub committee, was responding to comments made by Longford Leader columnist Mattie Fox.

Posing the question as to ‘why wasn’t a committee appointed at the outset once news of the stand became clear?’ Mr Fox also suggested, “Many people believe it is a further example of the preoccupation with preserving a secret policy, with regard to Pearse Park.”

Mr Murray stated, “There were accusations that we have been very secretive in terms of what we have been doing and that hasn’t been the case at all. There is actually a lot of information out there among County Board delegates.”

Mr Murray said the most recent County Board meeting (held on Monday, June 13) was the first since the sub committee was formed and that delegates were given a comprehensive update as to where things were at.

He continued, “I can’t control what people write but it did bring it across to people throughout the county that things that were being done, were being done in an underhand or behind closed doors manner. Certainly, that is not our aim.”

The Kenagh-based official stressed, “Our aim and our intentions are genuine. Our aim and intention is to get Pearse Park fixed, to get the job done right.”

He acknowledged, “We need to get this problem fixed because it was a sin to be in Pearse Park for when Longford played Westmeath - it was a winner takes all local derby in the league and there wasn’t 300 people from Longford at it.

“That sent out the signal that Longford people are annoyed. They want a fix done and it is our duty to get things moving. The stand is closed two years at this stage.”

The sub committee are working towards finding a solution where they get value for money and get the job done right, and that Pearse Park is safe for patrons to go into afterwards.

Since the sub committee was formed, they’ve met regularly.

Members of the Croke Park Infrastructure Committee, including engineers Frank Murray, Derek Kent and Conor Hayes, have visited Pearse Park in recent weeks as has representatives of a British company that are looking at a resin based underpinning of the stand as part of a possible solution.

Mr Murray outlined, “The reality is that whatever solution we come up with we have to get the go ahead from the Croke Park Infrastructure Committee. We’ve been in contact with them on a constant basis.”

Mr Murray said they have a ballpark idea of what money is going to be made available to them from GAA sources to assist with refurbishment but nothing has been confirmed. He also explained that the level of this funding assistance wouldn't differ whether they spent €7.1m, €5m or €10m on the project.

€7.1 million was the figure being touted three months ago as the cost of the solution and Mr Murray believes that by the time the sub committee complete their work ‘it is going to be less’.

Mr Murray said that undertakings given previously to Longford Co Board in regard to making money available for the development of a Centre of Excellence remain in place provided they got this job done right and ‘that there will be no going back to revisit the Pearse Park saga’.

Also see Talking Tactics on Page 84 for more on the options being explored as a possible solution for Pearse Park.

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