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Meath GAA reject €400k cash offer by wind-farm company

Meath County Board has turned down a five-year sponsorship deal worth close to €400,000 from a company involved in a contentious local wind-farm project.

A vote was due to be taken at next Monday’s monthly county board meeting on the lucrative offer of €375,000 from Element Power, which it received in the past two months.

The county executive had voted in favour of it, pointing out that it was a considerable sum – €75,000 a-year for the next five seasons – that could be invested in the work being done to complete the county’s centre of excellent at Dunganny, outside Trim, which will cost €2.5m.

A vote on the matter was deferred last month in order for clubs to brief themselves on the emotive issue and get a mandate from their members.

The North-Meath Windfarm Information Group had planned a protest at the meeting in Navan O’Mahony’s next Monday but the vote was called off yesterday when Meath GAA made it clear they are no longer interested.

Meath PRO Martin O’Halloran clarified that their monthly board meeting will go ahead as usual but that this matter is firmly off the agenda.

“This offer was made to us, it was a lot of money and had a responsibility to our members to put it to our clubs and let them vote on it, we are a democracy,” he said.

“There was opposition to it from some of our clubs and their opinion has been heard.”

Meath GAA and Element Power issued a joint statement yesterday.

The board said it had decided that “that it is not appropriate for a voluntary sporting organisation like the GAA to engage in a complex debate on renewable energy and consequently will decline the offer from Element Power”.

The issue of wind-farms is a contentious one in rural communities across several counties in the Midlands at present. The green energy company wants to erect 46 turbines, each up to 169 metres high, at three sites east of Kells.

Element Power had stressed that the offer to the GAA had “no conditions attached” and said that they “had identified an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to a large voluntary sporting association in Co Meath but the company noted and respected the decision.”

The company is still prepared to invest an €3.5m in local community projects over the coming years.