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Belmullet defend Shell sponsorship

Irish Times

BELMULLET GAA club in north Co Mayo have defended their decision to accept money from the developers of the controversial Corrib gas project to sponsor a Gaeltacht GAA tournament this weekend.

Locals opposed to the contentious gas pipeline and terminal have renamed the Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta tournament this weekend as “Shell-Peil”.

But Belmullet GAA club, which last year received €450,000 from Shell and its partners towards a €1.8 million clubhouse development, have defended the decision to accept the sponsorship money.

The Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta Gaelic football tournament is the biggest event of the year for GAA clubs from Irish-speaking areas.

The tournament takes place at a different venue each year. Kilcommon parish community group Pobal Chill Chomáin, who are opposed to the gas project, have written to all 32 county GAA boards to outline the impact of the sponsorship.

Pobal Chill Chomáin chair Vincent McGrath said they were not asking players to stay away from the tournament, which is an important event for the area.

Shell has agreed to pay sponsorship of €10,000 for the tournament, which will bring hundreds of weekend visitors to Belmullet for the weekend.

Mr McGrath said the sponsorship deal had caused “hurt” in the area and the community group had sent information to the county board and and about two dozen GAA clubs.

This information included copies of the recent FrontLine human rights report on Corrib, recent community correspondence with Shell and various news articles and DVDs.

Club chairman Sean Ó Gallchóir said : “The Corrib gas partners have been a major contributor to this club, and I don’t believe it has caused any upset within our club and in our area of Belmullet.”