A new GAA Green Club programme will see 45 Clubs and two regional venues explore a range of sustainability projects designed to enrich their physical and social environments.
The GAA Green Club Programme, supported by the County & City Management Association and the local authority Climate Action Regional Offices, is delivered in partnership with the Camogie Association and LGFA, with additional support from expert agencies across the five thematic focus areas of the programme, namely: Energy, Waste, Biodiversity, Water, Travel & Transport.
The all-Ireland nature of the initiative was reflected in the contribution to the online launch event by Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications in the Republic and representatives of Northern Ireland Executive’s Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs.
The Green Club Phase One participants were selected from 220 clubs that responded earlier this year to a questionnaire designed to gauge interest in developing a Green Club initiative. The responses highlighted a wealth of sustainability work already being undertaken by Gaelic Games units and a desire to further contribute to the green agenda while future-proofing their communities and facilities.
Phase One will run for 12 months from December 2020 with the intention of amassing as much practical learnings from the participating clubs and venues as possible. This will inform the creation of a GAA Green Clubs toolkit that will be made available to all Gaelic Games units in Ireland (1,600 clubs, plus county and provincial venues), replete with useful case studies, established partnership models, and funding avenues.
The Camogie Clubs taking part in the programme are Cappoquin in Waterford, Tralee Parnells in Kerry and St. Colman’s Camogie Club/Kilbeacanty in Galway.
GAA President, John Horan, said: “The Green Clubs Project further demonstrates that at its core the GAA is a community-based organisation grounded in place. The project seeks to support our hard-working volunteers in future-proofing their club facilities while contributing to the sustainability of their community from an environmental and cultural perspective. It also demonstrates the GAA’s commitment as an official SDG Champion of the Irish government.”
Minister Eamon Ryan, TD, said: “I am delighted to support the GAA Green Clubs initiative which will see practical sustainable solutions to tackle climate change implemented by clubs all over Ireland. The GAA has been a valuable partner in championing the Sustainable Development Goals. This initiative plays to the GAA’s strengths; by acting locally to tackle a global issue it will contribute to a reduction in CO2 emissions and build awareness of the challenges we face in dealing with climate change.”
Minister Edwin Poots, MLA, also commented on the launch and said: “When it comes to the environment it is only by working together that we can create the behavioural change that is necessary to manage our climate change and environmental risks. The GAA’s five thematic areas of energy, waste, water, biodiversity and transport, align well with my Department’s Green Growth objectives. The challenge I am setting is for Northern Ireland to use Green Growth to change behaviours and to turn climate change from an economic threat into an economic and environmental opportunity.
“I believe the Green Clubs initiative has the potential to be a real catalyst for change, harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of not just the young players on the pitch. It draws in the club officials, their supporters their families and their communities. I hope my Department will be able to continue to explore with the GAA those areas where we can guide and support their activities.”
Attendees of the online launch on Wednesday evening heard Padraig Fallon of the Clan na Gael club in Dundalk outline a recent energy saving project the club undertook with significant outcomes. The project involved major insulation, ventilation, and maintenance works, including switching to LED bulbs throughout their campus, and has resulted in annual energy and maintenance savings of €10,000, vastly improved lighting on their playing pitches while achieving an annual reduction in CO2 emissions of 30 tonnes.
The club submitted an SEAI grant application through Louth Co. Co./Louth Energy Sustainable Energy Community, receiving 50% funding for the project. The club contributed the remaining balance through a seven-year loan paid by savings on their reduced energy spend.
Clan na Gael is one of three mentoring clubs selected, due to their significant existing work and plans in the field of sustainability, to participate in Phase One of the Green Club Programme, along with Mullingar Shamrocks, Westmeath, and Culloville Blues, Armagh. A Green Club Working Group, involving representation from all stakeholders, is overseeing the implementation of Phase One of the project.