Forget about Hill 16 plan

I TAKE back the nasty things I’ve said about An Bord Pleanála (ABP). They’re not a bunch of fascists after all.

(The libel people don’t like me calling people fascists. They can’t object to me saying they’re not fascists. Nod, Nod, Wink, Wink, ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’ sort of thing.)

In a ground-breaking decision they (ABP) have accepted that stadium terraces are not inherently unsafe

More importantly for the traditions of this city, Hill 16 has been saved as a terrace.

Yippee! Great! Now let’s forget the latest plan.

I’ve no doubt that the new plans will make Hill 16 a better terrace. But the fact is that the capacity will increase from10,800 to 13,089 and that’s including the old Nally Stand (c2,000 capacity).

I make that an increase of 289 fans at a cost of €23m. Which works out at, let me see, €79,584 and 78 cents per new fan.

Now we in the GAA are delighted to see new punters at the matches but at 80 grand a go they can sit at home and watch Beckham as far as I’m concerned.

This is crazy. The only reason the new plan was submitted was that ABP wouldn’t allow standing. Now they have changed their minds anyway.

The GAA spends far too much on concrete. Over the past ten years there has been a frenzy of ground development at club and county level right across the country. I’d say the bill wouldn’t stop much short of €400m.

Meanwhile, the overall development of the Association has come to a halt. Very few new clubs have been formed and very few new opportunities to play gaelic games have been created.

The next ten years will be critical to the future of the GAA. The Association has not come to terms in any meaningful way with the new sub-urban Ireland.

If they have €23m to spend, then they should spend it putting a hurl or a handball into the hand of every child in Ireland.

The building industry can look after itself.

Saved – but not for the Dubs alone

IT’S fantastic that Hill 16 has been saved. But there’s a fly in the ointment.

Part of the reasoning for retaining a terrace is to provide cheap access to Croke Park.

And obviously that means cheap for both sets of supporters. As there is just one terrace in Croker, Hill 16 will have to be shared equally between opposing fans at Dublin matches.

Just 6,000 Hill tickets for the Dubs? Now, that’s a pain.

The GAA should revisit the idea of having the lower deck of the Canal End as a terrace. This was raised before but rejected by ABP because of safety fears about terracing back then.

Now that those fears have been allayed and the overall capacity of the stadium has been agreed (82,300) the GAA should lift the seating.

Hill 16 is a unique selling point for Dublin fans. It’s just doesn’t mean the same to fans of any other county. The GAA should cater for as many Dubs on Hill 16 as it possibly can.