Preparatory work for Southern Relief Road forces relocation of GAA club

March 25, 2019

  Newry Mitchels GAA club is to relocate its entire club activities to Derryleckagh Playing Fields to facilitate preparatory work to commence for the proposed new Southern Relief Road.

The road will run between the A1 Dublin Road dual carriageway and A2 Warrenpoint Road dual carriageway and – having been chosen as the preferred route following public consultation – will cross the Gerry Brown Park on the Warrenpoint Road, which is currently used under seasonal hire arrangements by Newry Mitchels.   

Consultants working for the Department of Infrastructure (DfI) are to conduct ‘geotechnical investigations’ as part of the initial work and this will involve bore hole drilling on the club’s playing surface.

At Thursday’s meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s active and healthy communities committee, councillors rubber-stamped the relocation of Newry Mitchels GFC to the Derryleckagh Playing Fields, located on the Ballyholland Road.

The arrangement to relocate the club is expected to last until the end of March 2020, but SDLP councillor Michael Savage said it is hoped it could become permanent.

“Obviously the Mitchels have been severely impacted by this as they will lose their pitch as a result of the southern relief road,” he told the BBC.

“We’ve managed to secure another pitch for at least another 12 months and the view then would be working hard to get them a permanent, long-term home. It’s one of the oldest clubs in this city.”

The £100m road project faces other obstacles, with several homeowners in the Fathom area of the city near the Newry Canal having to sell their homes  to allow the road to be built.

Mr Savage said he had brought the nine families who are impacted by the move together with Roads Service “to make sure their concerns are heard and their voices are listened to,” he said.

“The route has generally been agreed but where it impacts on their properties still has to be agreed.”