Councillors must commit themselves to delivering parity of esteem for all in Moyle and remain aloof from the side deals that ensured some were more equal than others in Stormont. A motion tonight at Moyle could see Councillors become the first authority to deliver sport and recreation Clubs a rates free future.
The following was tabled last week and has been left to give Councillors a chance to comprehend the proposal;
A proposal presented to Moyle Council in the Glens of Antrim could see the District hand back‘Rate Monies’ to GAA Clubs in the area – essentially awarding them rates exemption status via the back door. The move would circumvent rules forcing GAA Clubs to continue paying property rates while Orange Halls remain exempt.
In a controversial move in 2005, then British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote to the Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Independent Imperial Grand Lodge confirming their properties would be exempt from Rates. It was widely believed at the time that Prime Minister Blair used the issue of Rates on Orange Halls as an incentive to attract the DUP to talks in Leeds Castle .
This proposal from Independent Councillor Padraig Mc Shane has the potential to set a precedent that would allow local authorities throughout the North to payback rates to GAA Clubs in any District.
Councillor Mc Shane said;
“I wish to present a logically compelling argument as to why the GAA should be exempt over and above the reasons why others enjoy exemption status. I simply feel it is unfair to require the GAA, a voluntary organisation, to pay Rates while they provide a much needed service to local communities. If anything, the GAA remove a massive burden from ratepayers by generating their own income and providing their own facilities.
Councillor Mc Shane’s proposal would see GAA Clubs in Moyle awarded amounts to the value they are charged in Rates to help maintain facilities for the benefit of the Communities they represent.
At Monday night’s meeting of Moyle District Council members gave the proposal a positive hearing before requesting additional time to consider. It will be revisited next week.
Councillor Mc Shane continued;
“A conceptually arresting and deeply informed case must be made to make all GAA Clubs and similar sporting organisations exempt from rates. This current proposal may help to unlock the intransigence in some political quarters for now but the ultimate aim must be to place the GAA in the exempt from Rates category.”
This Councillor has championed the GAA in the past. In 2008 he proposed a unique fund for infrastructure projects that has seen over one hundred thousand pounds go to help the development of the six GAA Clubs in Moyle.