Fury over residential development threat for Dolphin Park

by Gary Ibbotson

Furious locals in Dublin 8 have said that a proposed development at Dolphin Park will be detrimental to the area.

An application was filed with Dublin City Council for more than 160 homes on Dolphin Park land but was deemed invalid on a technicality last week.

The application was for 153 apartments across three buildings, six-storeys high, as well as seven townhouses, one detached house and 108 parking spaces.

In March 2018, the GAA – which are believed to be the owners of the land – approved the sale of a 15% section of Dolphin Park as part of a plan to develop the existing facilities, and to help repay debt that the organisation assumed from Templeogue Synge Street GAA club, which plays there.

The club say that the sale of the land is essential to fund the revamp of club facilities for the sporting community of The Liberties.

A public meeting was held by the Love Dolphin Park group, which expects another application for the development to be filed imminently.

Many locals raised concerns over traffic, the loss of green space, and that the proposed apartments wouldn’t fit the low-rise aesthetic of the locale.

Speaking on the concerns raised by locals, Senator Catherine Ardagh said: “Taking the use of these pitches away from the community will not only negatively impact on an already neglected district of the city, but would mean that more and more young people would be without sport and exercise.

“We’re trying to address the anti-social issues in the south inner city and keep young people off the streets, but here are plans to remove vital sporting amenities.”

If given the go-ahead, nearly a third of Dolphin Park will be under concrete. Dolphin Park is in The Liberties, which has the lowest amount of green space per capita in Dublin.

St Kevin’s GAA club, which has played on the pitches for almost 50 years alongside Templeogue Synge Street and are the only surviving GAA club in the south inner city, has 18 teams who use the green space, as well as a nursery catering for younger children.

They fear that if the development is given the go-ahead, should a new planning application be lodged, their pitches may be forced further out into the suburbs, and may be difficult for current members to access without a means of transportation.

There will also be a huge loss in green space for one of the most built-up areas in the city, whose residents have been campaigning for more recreational parks and green space in the locality for some time.

Club spokesperson for St Kevin’s, JJ O’ Mahony, said: “We don’t want pitches further out in the suburbs. We need to keep access to these pitches close to where our children and young people are living, not further away.

“This is really about enabling greater participation by all of the families living in our communities. It’s about the future needs of this local community.

“Where are the children who play for Kevin’s now to go when we cannot accommodate scheduled fixtures or training at Dolphin Park? This is a real priority for our club.

“Our members come from very socially-mixed areas and we see that as a great strength in a lot of ways. At the moment, the field has the capacity to cater for five pitches. After the proposed development, this would be two.

“All of the children who live in these areas covering The Liberties, Meath Street, Donore Avenue, Dolphins Barn and Rialto deserve the same opportunity to learn the skills of hurling and camogie as other children in other parts of the city and country.”

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