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Tallaght Stadium:Thomas Davis at it again

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    Tallaght Stadium:Thomas Davis at it again

    Irish Times 18.04.07

    Roche criticises Thomas Davis letter
    Emmet Malone Soccer correspondent

    Wed, Apr 18, 2007

    Tallaght Stadium controversy:Shamrock Rovers chairman Jonathan Roche has
    described as "a disgrace" a letter sent earlier this month by his counterpart at Thomas Davis, Christopher O'Donnell, to members of the GAA club in relation to the issue of access to the stadium proposed for Tallaght.

    Roche also says that an item of supporting documentation, which accompanied the letter, is "riddled with factual inaccuracies".

    In the letter, dated April 7th, O'Donnell encourages members to make an
    election issue of the club's fight to win access to the stadium and provides detailed instruction to members on how the issue should be raised with politicians during the forthcoming election campaign.

    He also suggests they should not support local Fianna Fail TD Conor Lenihan, a Minister for State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, because he has recently signalled to club officials his support for the line taken by John O'Donoghue, that Government funding for the project be conditional upon it being used solely for soccer. O'Donnell says the politician has been informed he will not be welcome at the club until the GAA is accommodated at the stadium.

    Lenihan said last night that while he was aware of the letter's content he found it both "surprising and ironic" that he first heard about it last Thursday night while attending a charity fund-raiser at the club. "I was being treated to drinks by senior members of the club and talking to a couple of former players who were special guests at the function when somebody approached me solemnly and presented me with a copy of the letter. Given how welcome I was made to feel on the night, I haven't really bothered to pursue the matter."

    While O'Donnell clearly suggests to members in the letter that Thomas Davis and GAA other clubs in the area have been warned their stand on Tallaght might preclude them from receiving funds under the Government's Sports Capital Programme, Lenihan points out that one reason he believes he was made so welcome at the function was the news the club had just been allocated some EUR200,000 under the scheme.

    "There seems to have been a suggestion that they couldn't benefit from Sports Capital Programme funding but as a result of the type of representations made by me, amongst others, the club received EUR200,000 only last week and I have been instrumental in obtaining over EUR600,000 in funding for Thomas Davis over the last few years.

    It is a matter of deep regret that we should have such a deep division between supporters of two sporting codes, and people on both sides of this debate have gone too far in what they have said at times. It would still be a concern of mine, however, that if Thomas Davis are successful in having the stadium opened then it may be the case that other clubs will take cases to have facilities already funded and built opened up too."

    Within Rovers, meanwhile, there is disquiet over what the club's officials see as the latest attempt to undermine their attempts to get into the Tallaght development. In O'Donnell's letter he states on a number of occasions that Thomas Davis did not want to do this and that they did not intend either to dispute their neighbour's status as "anchor tenants" at the stadium.

    However, Rovers' club secretary Noel Byrne points to a letter written in
    September 2005 by another Thomas Davis official, David Kennedy, to Dublin County Board chief executive John Costello as evidence that the club's public position cannot be readily taken at face value. In that letter Kennedy notes that in communications with South Dublin County Council, which is to complete the stadium, Thomas Davis have accepted the facility will also be used for soccer. "Tactically," he writes, "I th