HC Deb 22 November 1906 vol 165 cc985-6
MR. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whether he can explain why an equitable distribution of the playing-grounds on the Fifteen Acres, Phoenix Park, Dublin, is not made between Gaelic football and association football clubs, considering the fact that the former are more numerous than the latter; whether he can state why, out of the thirty-three grounds in the Fifteen Acres, only three are devoted to Gaelic games, while the remainder are devoted to association football; what reason can be given for this state of affairs, seeing that during the greater portion of the season the majority of grounds devoted to association football are never used, while on the remainder of those grounds only one match per ground per Sunday is played, while the Gaelic clubs are compelled, owing to the small number of grounds they possess, to play three matches on each ground per Sunday, which necessitates the players and officials of Gaelic clubs remaining in the park from 11 o'clock of a Sunday morning until 5 or 6 o'clock in the evening.


To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whether he will request the Commissioners of Public Works to make an equitable distribution of the present grounds on the Fifteen Acres, by devoting an equal number of the grounds between Gaelic and association clubs, and thus make the latter play two matches on each ground instead of one as at present; and whether, in view of the discontent that exists amongst Gaelic clubs and the general public in Dublin, owing to the manner in which the former are being treated in this matter, he will request the Commissioners of Public Works favourably to reconsider this whole question of grounds in the Fifteen Acres.

(Answered by Mr. McKenna.) The space assigned for games in the Phoenix Park cannot be extended, and the Commissioners of Public Works have every desire to allot it amongst the various games in such a way as will meet the reasonable requirements of each section. There are thirty-one grounds on the Fifteen Acres (not thirty-three as stated by the hon. Member) and three are allotted for Gaelic games in addition to another ground in another portion of the park. It should he remembered that the Gaelic game requires nearly twice as much ground as the association and accommodates thirty-four players as against twenty-two. The information which the Commissioners possess does not support the contention that the Gaelic clubs are more numerous than the association. They have reason to think that the reverse is true and the grounds allotted to the association game are fully utilised during the season. By a little organisation between the Gaelic clubs hours might easily be arranged for playing consecutive matches on the same ground on Sunday so as to avoid the inconvenience referred to by the hon. Member. The principal factor in determining the allocation of the space for the various games is the anxiety of the Board to provide on Sunday as many grounds as possible for those association clubs who are only able to play on that day, and who, but for the grounds in the park, would be prevented by lack of funds from playing at all. These clubs are much more numerous than the Gaelic clubs, and the latter are much better able to afford grounds. For Sunday next all the association grounds have already been allotted, and nearly fifty games are unprovided for. The decision as to the number of grounds allotted for association games on Sunday determines the allocation for Saturday, as, owing to the difference of size, the grounds for the two games are not interchangeable. Moreover, owing to the shortness of the time on Saturday afternoon, only one game can be played on each ground, but on Saturdays too, considerably more association clubs have to be disappointed than can be provided for, while the demand for Gaelic matches is small. The Commissioners inform me that they have under consideration whether, by a rearrangement of one or two grounds, an additional Gaelic ground on the Fifteen Acres can be provided, and if this is found possible the change will be carried out.