Soccer veto claim refuted

The chairman of the board of Portlaoise Leisure Centre last week refuted claims that there was a vested interest in the centre.

The chairman of the board of Portlaoise Leisure Centre last week refuted claims that there was a vested interest in the centre.

Cllr Willie Aird insisted that the leisure centre was open to everyone at last week’s meeting of Laois County Council, when Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald asked for an update on the nets.

Cllr Fitzgerald said she had received emails from members of the public claiming that the FAI were calling the shots at the centre.

“I have received a number of emails from people saying the FAI are calling the shots, that there was no problem until they got the summer leagues. Portlaoise Leisure Centre is for everyone, not one group,” Cllr Fitzgerald said, adding that she wanted the situation with the nets to be resolved.

Cllr Aird said he had received the emails too. He explained that the nets were taken down for health and safety reasons.

“There was a heavy steel cable on the nets, if that had come down on a worker, it would have had serious consequences for that person. The FAI had an input and they came back and said it was safer with no nets,” he said.

“The manager is monitoring the situation. We want to do the right things and we are currently looking for three costs for nets but there is conflicting views whether people want them or not.”

Cllr Aird continued: “The Leisure Centre is open to everyone, there is no vested interest in it, if there was I wouldn’t be involved. The board of management ensures that it is run in the best way for total social inclusion that everybody can use it and it is always affordable.”

He said the biggest problem the Leisure Centre remains anti-social behaviour in the playground.