A Government Minister has said that it is “primarily” the responsibility of Dublin City Council to provide playing pitches in The Liberties, and the area has “waited too long” for appropriate facilities.
Minister of State and Fianna Fail TD Jack Chambers was speaking in the Dail last week after local Sinn Fein TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Government to intervene in the matter.
In October, members of Dublin 8 sports clubs took part in a protest outside Dublin City Council calling on the local authority to develop playing pitches in the community.
The Liberties has one of the lowest percentage of available green space in the city at 6.5 percent.
Activists say that the old council depot at Marrowbone Lane would be an ideal location for new sporting facilities.
“There is no grass or all-weather pitch in this deprived and disadvantaged area,” Deputy Ó Snodaigh said.
“It is a need that has been identified especially considering the closure of the two grass pitches which were in St. Teresa’s Gardens but were closed 15 years ago with a promise that they would be reinstated.
“That is now stuck in a court in the European Union.”
“That might happen at some stage in the future,” he said.
“Also two of the community halls in the area have been closed.
“One has been in long-term use as a homeless centre and the other had a fire last year.
“There was a promise that the earliest possible that the city council would reopen that would be in 2024.
“That exacerbated a problem already in existence for the 6,500 children under the age of 12 who live locally in this area and the sports clubs that are in the area but must travel outside to take part in competitive sports.
“This affects a number of soccer teams, Gaelic teams, rugby teams and other sports.”
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the community is “crying out for Government action and investment” to progress the construction of playing facilities.
However, Minister Chambers said the issue is primarily the matter for Dublin City Council and the Government’s authority is limited on the matter.
“It was clear from the presentations made by the clubs that they and their volunteers are doing phenomenal work to get young people in the Dublin 8 area involved sport and physical activity,” he said.
“However, their efforts to grow and get more people active and involved in sport are seriously hampered by a lack of access to pitches and spaces to play.
“Working with all local representatives, I am happy to do all I can to help everybody with this issue,” he said.
“However, it still should be stated that the possible development of any multisport all-weather pitch at Marrowbone Lane is primarily a matter for Dublin City Council in the first instance.
“I understand work is ongoing between the council and local representatives to try to address this, as the Deputy referenced.”
Minister Chambers said there are grants available for the council to apply for which would help fund the development.
“The large scale sport infrastructure fund is designed for projects where the grant sought is greater than the maximum available under the sports capital and equipment programme.
“The first allocations of approximately €86 million to 33 proposals were made in 2020.
“Of course, Dublin City Council will again be invited to submit applications under the new round, including any proposal it may have for facilities at Marrowbone Lane.”
Minister Chambers says that Dublin City Council “needs to move to address the deficit of facilities in the Dublin 8 and Liberties area.”
“As a Government, we are committed to shaping our investment around where there is a lack of a facilities, particularly in disadvantaged areas.
“However, obviously, the land allocation is a necessity from local authorities.
“I would encourage Dublin City Council, with the local councillors and all representatives, to ensure that an application is made in the next round.
“Such an application will benefit from the structure of the scheme that we have.”