SDLP Newcastle’s Down District Councillor Eamonn O’Neill has said Jim Wells’ criticism of Bryansford Ladies GAA fundraising efforts in local supermarkets while bag packing “further underlines his vendetta against the club and the GAA”.
Councillor O’Neill said, “The teenage girls from Bryansford Ladies were out on a voluntary basis trying to raise money for their club to sustain it and make it better for people in the area. They are a great example of young people doing positive work within our community and are undeserving of the criticism being directed toward them from Jim Wells.
“It appears Mr Wells has a vendetta against Bryansford GAA having previously blocked the development of their playing fields and used all kinds of tactics to obstruct their planning application on entirely unjustifiable grounds.
“He is not only narrow minded, but bigoted when it comes to the GAA and his comments, while not unsurprising, are sickening to people, particularly those involved in the GAA not just in Newcastle but across our island.”
Former Counciillor Jim Wells MLA responded to the challenge by Councillor O’Neill and said, “This is a very typical response from Councillor O’Neill. Had he bothered to read what I actually said he would have realized that I did not single out any particular club for criticism.
‘All I said was, that if a GAA club was collecting in a given supermarket in South Down they should clearly identify themselves as many unionist shoppers would not want to give to that organisation.
“I also questioned why clubs needed to collect through bag packing given the fact that the GAA was such a wealthy organisation. The County Down Board received a million euro last year from Croke Park and this money could be used to fund local club activities.
“I believe that supermarkets should give priority to local charities rather than sports clubs who have other sources of funding” he added.