HYDE PARK: Gaels reject proposals

There is renewed uncertainty over the future development of the county’s leading GAA ground this week following a significant setback in attempts to broker a deal between Roscommon County Board and Roscommon Gaels over ownership of Dr. Hyde Park.    This week a Roscommon Gaels official confirmed to the Roscommon People that the club has just rejected the latest set of proposals aimed at ending the impasse between the Gaels and the County Board.    Roscommon Gaels has instead presented new proposals to the GAA’s Implementation Committee, which has been trying to resolve the stand-off in recent months.    It is understood that major funding earmarked by GAA HQ for further development of Hyde Park is conditional on an agreed arrangement for the future management of the grounds.    Negotiations on the vexed question of ownership/future use and management  of Hyde Park have been ongoing for several months. The saga developed as ownership of Dr. Hyde Park became a major issue in recent years and a bone of contention between the County Board and Roscommon Gaels. For many years Dr. Hyde Park has been effectively run by the Dr. Hyde Park committee, during which time it has been home venue for both Roscommon Gaels and county teams.    Following the investigations into Roscommon County Board’s finances a couple of years ago, a Report was published by Mazars (Accountants). The GAA’s Implementation Committee was then appointed to implement that Report.    The Implementation Committee has sought to achieve an agreed arrangement (between the County Board, Roscommon Gaels and Hyde Park Trustees) on the future of Hyde Park.    In April of this year Roscommon County Board put a set of proposals to Roscommon Gaels. The Board would argue that these proposals were in line with the Implementation Committee’s request that the Dr. Hyde Park Committee should, in future, be a sub-committee of the County Board. The Board would further argue that the proposals were also intended to ensure that Roscommon Gaels and the development of gaelic games in Roscommon town would be catered for. There are many within Roscommon Gaels who would ‘counter-argue’ that an attempt is being made to oust them from grounds which they have made a huge contribution to over several decades.    The terms of the agreement sought by Roscommon County Board in April were to the effect that:  The Hyde Park Committee is to be a Sub-Committee of the County Committee.  The Hyde Park Committee to be responsible for management and development of Hyde Park and Hyde Social Centre.  Hyde Park Sub-Committee to consist of a defined number of members as determined by the County Committee.  Hyde Park Sub-Committee to prepare annual audited accounts (for County Committee).  Dr. Hyde Park and Social Centre shall be available to Roscommon Gaels, subject to the terms of the Hyde Park Sub-Committee (and further, subject to certain conditions pertaining to indemnifying various parties/complying with standard regulations).  Hyde Park with its facilities is a venue of provincial status and is the HQ of Roscommon GAA.  In mid-April (within a week of receiving them) Roscommon Gaels Executive Committee informed the County Board that the proposed terms had been ‘unanimously’ rejected.    The Gaels instead offered their own set of terms to the County Board. These were to the effect that:   Roscommon Gaels own and manage Dr. Hyde Social Centre.  Roscommon Gaels should have unlimited use of the practice pitch.  Hyde Park remains the home pitch of Roscommon Gaels.  Roscommon Gaels to retain sole rights to all franchises (shops, match programmes, etc.) in Hyde Park.  Roscommon Gaels to retain two units underneath the new stand for its sole use.  On foot of receiving the Roscommon Gaels proposals, the Implementation Committee subsequently responded with seven proposals, which it put to Roscommon Gaels, the County Board and the Trustees of Hyde Park. It is understood that these were accepted by the County Board and the Trustees.  The proposals were as follows:  Hyde Park is owned by Roscommon County Board.  The Hyde Park Committee shall be appointed by the County Committee as a sub-committee of Roscommon County Board.  All development plans for Hyde Park shall be prepared by the Hyde Park Committee for ratification by the County Board. All cheques to be signed by the County Treasurer, accounts for Hyde Park to be audited by County Board Auditor.  Hyde Park Social Centre to be transferred to the sole use of Roscommon Gaels (long-term lease).  Hyde Park shall be the home venue of Roscommon Gaels for adult championship games.  Roscommon Gaels have use of the practice pitch. Future development may mean that this area is no longer available to the club for use as a practice pitch.  Roscommon Gaels are the preferred franchises for shops, sale of match programmes on match days.  These proposals were discussed at a meeting of the Roscommon Gaels executive which was held in the past two weeks. Subsequently – last week – a general meeting was held by the club. The proposals were rejected. It is thought that particular issue was taken with an assertion contained within the County Board proposals to the effect that Dr. Hyde Park ‘is owned’ by the County Board.    Having rejected the proposed terms of an agreement, Roscommon Gaels again responded with its own series of proposals and these were communicated to the Implementation Committee.    Last Monday night (October 29) the Implementation Committee met – separately – with representatives of Roscommon Gaels and Roscommon County Board in the Abbey Hotel in Roscommon.    At their meeting with the Roscommon Gaels representatives it was confirmed to the members of the Implementation Committee that the seven proposals had been rejected and that the Gaels had drawn up proposals in response. These are now being considered by the Implementation Committee.    Both Roscommon Gaels and Roscommon County Board have sought legal opinion on the ownership issue.    * The members of the Implementation Committee are Albert Fallon, Lauri Quinn, John Prenty and Eamonn Campion.