Protest at threat of Leisureplex closure

by Rebecca Ryan

On Wednesday September 18, the sports department of St John of God Services protested outside Leisureplex Stillorgan calling for the retention of the entertainment complex.

One of Ireland’s first bowling alleys, Leisureplex Stillorgan was opened in 1963 and has been a landmark of the south Dublin town ever since.

However, it was revealed back in April that the current owners of the site, Kennedy Wilson, filed an application with An Bord Pleanala (ABP) to demolish the complex and develop 232 apartments at the location.

In a statement, the sports department at St John of God services in Glenageary, said that it wishes “to express our disappointment and concerns re the proposed closure of Leisureplex, Stillorgan”.

It continued: “A large group from our service protested outside Leisureplex on September 18 as they want to let their voices be heard.

“We were joined in the protest by Transition Year students from Oatlands College and their co-ordinator, who work on an on-going basis with our Sports Department.

“St John of God (SJOG) Services support approximately 450 adults with an intellectual disability, in addition to our children’s services and schools.

“Leisureplex plays a significant role in the lives of many of the people supported in SJOG Services.

“Currently, we, the sports department, have two Special Olympics clubs who train weekly in Leisureplex. ‘Closure’

“The closure of the bowling alley will mean that 45 athletes will not have a venue to train at each week,” the department says.

SJOG says that other Special Olympics clubs also use the venue and loss of the facility could hamper their efforts to practice their sport.

In a statement, it said: “We are very concerned that the large volume of people accommodated by Stillorgan Leisureplex cannot be accommodated by the other local bowling centres.

“Currently, Leisureplex Tallaght, with 20 lanes, and Bray Bowl, with 12 lanes, have limited capacity.

“In addition, these bowling alleys are inaccessible to many of the people attending our service.

“Some of our athletes travel independently to Stillorgan, and also a lot of our service users are transported by elderly parents who, unfortunately, will be unable to travel to Bray or Tallaght.”

Cllr Michael Fleming (Ind) said he supports the action of St John of God, saying that the Leisureplex has “been in the heart of the Stillorgan community since 1963”.

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