IT has now been one calendar year since a meeting was organised with North Belfast Gaelic games clubs to present our case and engage in open dialogue with the leadership of Belfast City Council on the subject of a lack of provision for GAA clubs within the area.

During that meeting, several short-to-medium-term measures were identified, and the delivery of these measures was promised.

Currently, North Belfast shockingly has zero dedicated GAA pitches available for use, while there are 45 dedicated soccer pitches. This stark disparity highlights the neglect and lack of support for Gaelic games in our community. The growth and development of each North Belfast Gaelic games club have been severely stymied by this lack of facilities.

The meeting with the Council identified key solutions to address this imbalance: Utilising the Grove, Alexandra Park, and a comprehensive development at Mallusk. These sites were pinpointed as viable options for the creation of much-needed GAA pitches.

Regrettably, one year later there has been no tangible progress, nor has there been any follow-up dialogue regarding the implementation of these measures. The growth and development of each North Belfast GAA club have been subject to a non-committal, non-binding, and purely aspirational pitches strategy. This strategy now seems destined to join the previous strategies as yet another undelivered outcome of a talking shop, devoid of real action or results.

The lack of GAA pitches in North Belfast is not just a logistical issue, it is a barrier to the development of our young athletes and a hindrance to developing each club to their maximum potential. Each of our clubs is struggling to accommodate the increasing number of players and teams, which has a detrimental effect on training and match-day experiences.

Belfast City Council should honour their commitments and engage with clubs in a meaningful way to deliver short and medium-term measures. The Gaelic games clubs of North Belfast deserve better, and it is high time that words are translated into action. 

Stephen McCourt, 
​Chairperson, Wolfe Tones GAC