Ballynahinch Rugby Club invited Councillor Enright to set up a stand at the club last Saturday to collect signatures of the Downe 24-hour accident and emergency campaign. Club members also assisted in manning the table and announcements were made drawing spectators attention to the campaign.
Club members expressed anger and frustration that Down sports clubs were being denied such an essential facility at weekends. Ballynahinch RFC is Down Districts premier Rugby Club and fields 7 Adult teams, 4 Youth teams and 220 Mini Rugby players every weekend. This is more than any other club in Ireland. Ballynahinch is also the only Ulster club to achieve representation in top division of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland league.
Honorary Secretary Richard Hart said “Local sportspeople need the reassurance of accidents and emergency being opened at weekend, this club has regular need of A&E facilities and we unambiguously support the campaign for the Down A and E.”
Club member John Thompson agreed and pointed out that this affects all teams in all sports. He said that to his personal knowledge there had been 5 incidents at the Green High in the last year where A& E was required. Down High PE teacher and rugby coach Charlie Knox agreed and estimated that there were approximately 12 sporting incidents a year needing support of the A and E at the school.
Councillor Enright said, “it is clear that sports clubs across the District support this campaign. On Saturday morning in Dunleath Park I collected hundreds of signatures from local soccer teams until we were rained off. Almost every coach on every team emphasized the need for local A and E services. On Friday evening I took the petition to the Down GAA HQ in Castlewellan who immediately dispatched it to all 48 local GAA clubs asking club secretaries to organize the collection of signatures at every club.”