herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Ahern called in to sort out dispute over handball alley

Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been appointed to serve as the chief mediator in a long-running dispute over ta handball alley in Dublin's north inner city.

The ex-Fianna Fail leader has been asked to broker a deal between the GAA and the management committee of the Irish Handball Centre. A dispute has been going on for several years.

The disagreement over the potential demolition of the facility was widely seen as having played a role in the fiasco surrounding the planned Garth Brooks concerts in the summer of 2014.

It's now emerged that a formal mediation process between the parties is being chaired by Mr Ahern (inset). Mr Ahern's involvement in the process has allayed fears that the matter may result in a bitter court case.

Hearings have been held at the Skylon Hotel in Drumcondra and have been attended by GAA Ard Stiurthoir Paraic Duffy and Chairman of the Croke Park Streets Committee, Eamonn O'Brien.

It's understood discussions are centred around the relocation of the handball to a location in the immediate vicinity.

Speaking to the Herald, Mr O'Brien declined to discuss Mr Ahern's involvement because he said he wished to respect the mediation process.

He said that all sides were making progress and that he was hopeful a resolution can be reached.

Tough

"This dispute has been ongoing for some time and has been a tough battle. The important thing is that we have fought to protect the handball centre for the community, and we will continue to do that," Mr O'Brien said.

Mr Ahern has taken on a number of roles in the area of dispute resolution since stepping down from Irish politics.

Late last year, he travelled to Istanbul to take part in negotiations between the Turkish government and the Kurds.

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