Liberties group intensify campaign to find green areas for 8,000 children

by Rose Barrett
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This week saw the Sporting Liberties reignite their awareness campaign for over 8,000 children in Dublin 8 who have no  green area to play on.

Equally shocking, this area of the city doesn’t even have a decent indoor facility either for the kids to release their pent up energy in.

Children in D8 are disgracefully deprived of any proper amenities.

Speaking on behalf of the Sporting Liberties, JJ O’Mahoney and Tom Magee stated the nearest playing pitch for youth in the area was literally Phoenix Park or Rickfield in Crumlin, “Thirty or 40 minutes for a young person on a bike… and they’re not going to do that…It’s not local to them.”

Between them they noted that there is circa 60,000 people living in D8, with over 8,000 children – and nowhere, absolutely nowhere for youth or children to go, especially during the long winter evenings.

“The statistics for children growing up in this area are horrendous”, they said. “You’ve less than 28 per cent chance of going into third level education if you grow up here but a 99pc chance if you live outside this area!”

The group delivered a presentation to members of Dublin City Council last week calling for immediate action on the crisis. They are ucampaigning for a site or “a brown field” located behind St Catherine’s Sport Centre on Marrowbone Lane to be used as a sports campus. Claiming the site has possibly been lying idle since 2012, the Sporting Liberties have done feasibility studies, artist drawings and architectural plans – so why isn’t it possible and why the delay in providing the 8,000+ with some amenity in D8? they ask.

The pair also alluded to the number of young people who are sucked into a world of crime and drugs, when sadly, they might enjoy participating in sport or other activities and give back to their communities.

This is not the first time the Sporting Liberties have brought this issue into the media stage. Last summer, along with members of the Tenters Residents Association, and a plethora of local sporting and community groups, a protest march was organised supported by local TDs and many councillors representing the area.  Families and local bodies were utterly perplexed that Donore Youth and Community Centre remained closed following fire damage during Covid 19.

The only amenity open to youth and children in the Liberties, it still remains closed! Catherine McSweeney of Tenters RA said: “We all feel like broken records at this stage, pushing out the same message to the Government and Dublin City Council. It’s exhausting and The Sporting Liberties are really pushing again for someone to listen and provide facilities that the community needs in Dublin 8.”

The most recent communication from DCC regarding the Donore Centre stated it was not yet possible to provide an accurate date for the reopening of the centre.

“DCC have been working with the Design Team led by Cotter & Naessens project within the earlier timeframe, within the context of a significantly complex reinstatement project.” DCC confirmed that all surveys, stabilisation and weather proofing of the building completed.

“The next stage will include the development and completion of a tender package between March and May, following which tenders will be issued in June …. and a contract awarded in August.” DCC insisted that “the reinstatement of Donore Youth and Community Centre is of the highest priority to DCC and we will continue with any and all efforts to progress with the implementation of the programme with the greatest efficiency.”

Ms McSweeney said: “Sadly, the timelines constantly seem to slip. There is no doubt but that it will be 2025 at the very least before our Community Centre is returned to use!”

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