Leigue cemetery in Ballina is in danger of becoming a jungle, overrun by weeds, briars and grass, if Mayo county council continues to withhold the payment of GMA funding to local voluntary groups.

That was the view expressed by Ballina Independent councillor Gerry Ginty at yesterday’s monthly meeting of Ballina Municipal District held in the community centre in Bonniconlon.

He called for, at least an interim payment, to allow the voluntary group to get on with its work.

The withholding of the of GMA funds, is causing controversy across the county.

The CE of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes, says the monies cannot be paid out until a shortfall in the parking charges revenue agreed in the budget are resolved.

However, councillors disagree saying they approved the GMA funds for voluntary groups and many of these groups need the payments now.

20,000 euro has been allocated by councillors to Friends of Leigue Cemetery in 2018, under GMA funding.

Leigue Cemetery is just one of a variety of voluntary groups that receive various amounts in grant funding annually under GMA funding – tidy town groups, residents associations, festival committees also benefit from this fund.

They would usually have the much needed cash injection by this time of the year, but due to the shortfall in carparking charges revenue that was agreed to be generated by cllrs in the 2018 budget, Peter Hynes says the paying out of GMA must be withheld until an alternative source of funding is agreed to make up the shortfall.

The situation is causing tension, to say the least, between municipal district areas. There are 4 municipal districts in Mayo – Castlebar, Ballina , Claremorris and West Mayo.

Councillors in Ballina have strongly expressed their view that voluntary groups in the Ballina area are now being impacted on negatively because Westport is refusing to introduce car parking charges on the streets of the town.

At Mondays monthly meeting of Mayo county council, Peter  Hynes explained that there are complications in the paying out of the GMA fund but he said he is engaging in discussions with the Municipal Districts Managers and he is confident that the issues will be resolved before the next monthly meeting of the council.

Claremorris councillor Tom Connolly said, on Monday ,however, that he is not prepared to see any increase in car parking charges in the Claremorris Municipal District to compensate for the failure of West Mayo councillors to introduce street car parking charges in Westport.“We won’t subsidise Westport”, he insisted.

Independent councillor Gerry Ginty at yesterday’s monthly meeting of Ballina Municipal District agreed with that sentiment.

He called at the start of the meeting for an urgent interim payment to be released to Friends of Leigue Cemetery, the voluntary group that maintains the grounds around the Ballina cemetery.

He argued that without a cash injection now – maintenance of the graveyard will become too much, and he says the grounds will revert to the jungle that they were, before Friends of Leigue took over the work, using the annual GMA allocation of 20,000 euro a year.

However, there was no joy in response to that request.Director of Services Tom Gilligan stated that there are lots of exceptional cases, but said until the present problem at county council level is resolved no monies will be paid out under GMA.

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