The ongoing dispute regarding the Belfast City Council-owned pitch at the Waterworks in North Belfast again highlights the continuing institutionalised sectarianism that sees Council officials at the mercy of orders from Loyalist Paramilitaries.
This publicly owned pitch has lay fenced off and derelict for over two years, following redevelopment and the construction of changing facilities costing in the region of half a million pounds.
At the time of this redevelopment it was made clear that as it was a publicly owned pitch, it could be booked by any team regardless of background – no different from any other Council owned soccer facility. However when it became clear that rules regarding primacy of booking would see Ardoyne side Crumlin Star FC given priority, a faction of the North Belfast UDA issued threats regarding “Catholic teams” using the facility.
As a result, Crumlin Star now play their “home” matches in Larne, while the pitch is now closed to the public, as the Council refuse to stand up to sectarian thugs and bullies. This is not only to the detriment of Crumlin Star, but local sides including Westland YM, Shamrock FC and others.
Saoradh members, through our membership of local clubs, sporting providers and residents’ groups, have been to the fore in highlighting and opposing this continuing injustice, as well as the ongoing debacle that resulted in no permanent changing facilities on Marrowbone Park. We will continue to offer assistance and support in whatever way we can.