Secretary of Clare GAA Pat Fitzgerald has claimed that there is a witchhunt aimed at him going on in the county.
The comments came during tetchy exchanges at this week’s board meeting, in which issues relating to the still to be completed €4.8 million Centre of Excellence at Caherlohan were once more to the fore.
Whitegate delegate David Solan raised the issue when querying the content of an Irish Independent article in recent weeks, which claimed that the pitches at the venue were in “pristine condition”.
“It is my opinion that when we got someone in to see what is wrong with the pitches and to cost how much it would be, he came out with a figure of €70,000 per pitch for six pitches which is nearly €500,000. It is what I would call negligence by somebody in the county board, because when you do a sand based pitch, you are given a maintenance plan. We have one in Whitegate and when we couldn’t gather the grass on the practice pitch, we got 10 or 12 people with ride on mowers to gather it. That was not done in Caherlohan and the reason it wasn’t done is because we haven’t a lawnmower suitable. A lawnmower that would cost somewhere from €25,000 to €30,000 that would do the job it was supposed to do, and have the pitches in pristine condition, is after turning into a job that is going to cost over €500,000. There is nobody accountable for that which is unbelieveable. I would say that they are the only sandbased pitches in the whole of Ireland that are not working they way they should be. For some reason, there is no one accountable for that” he claimed.
The issue of the quality of water at the venue was also raised, after claims that there was an odour coming from it as a result of a high sulfur content. Solan outlined that a report was completed on the water quality in 2019, which had found it was unfit for human consumption. When asked if anything had been done since that report was published, chairman of Clare GAA Jack Chaplin responded that “I personally did not get it tested”. Solan reminded the chairman that the report had recommended that tests be carried out to which the Cratloe clubman replied “Well, I don’t know anything about that”.
Wolfe Tones delegate Dermot O’Donnell reiterated his clubs view that any spend on Caherlohan should be paused until the new five year strategic review group had completed its report.
“There should be nothing done to Caherlohan until the review committee has made their assessment of what has to be done, because we are putting money into a bottomless pit here” he noted.
Secretary Pat Fitzgerald stated the pitches in Caherlohan are not sandbased because the finances were not available at the time to install them.
“I hear all of this talk about the cost of Caherlohan. I know David is talking about a sand based pitch, but we didn’t put a sand based pitch in Caherlohan because we didn’t have the money to do it. How much did the pitches in Caherlohan cost? Will someone tell me because everybody is telling me about the cost of them. Anything that I will give you, I will prove it. Not alone has it been sanctioned by one consulting engineer, it has been done by two. One from Croke Park, and one that we had ourselves. Will somebody tell me please, what is this enormous sum of money that has been spent on the pitches in Caherlohan? Please, because I will tell you, if you get a pitch done tomorrow, an ordinary pitch, it is going to cost you €140,000 per pitch, and if you get it cheaper, come back and tell me. So, will someone please tell me, what is the enormous sum that has been spent on the pitches in Caherlohan? I have not reacted to this for a long time, going back two years, and I am very sorry because this thing has gone out of hand. I can tell you that at this stage, I believe myself, that it is a witch hunt on myself which I believe is wrong and unfair. Will somebody tell me what the pitches in Caherlohan cost” he queried.
Clonlara’s Flan Mullane asked for clarification on whether the pitches at the venue were sand based or not, with the secretary outlining that they are not.
“I don’t know who gave ye that impression. There was supposed be two inches of sand put into it but I can’t tell ye whether it was or not, but that is what was supposed to be put in it, but they were never sand based pitches. I can tell you they were never sand based pitches. The reason is the money wasn’t there. Everyone is talking in a vacuum, and unfortunately there is some site, and I don’t get into the social media, that has all the information that everyone is going by. It is on that basis and on the basis of what I hear is on that site, that I suggest there must be a witch hunt against somebody, and I think it is myself” he said.