LOCAL politicians are at odds over a recent warning issued by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to withdraw allocations for playing pitches to sports clubs who have set up training on public green spaces and council pitches without permission.
Cllr Richard Humphreys (Lab) said: “Clubs need to engage with the council so that facilities can be allocated fairly across the county.”
There are more than 40 clubs in the county with allocations across 90 pitches, in various codes such as GAA, soccer and rugby.
The council allocates pitches in county parks for weekend league matches and also provides all-weather facilities for training at Marlay, Cabinteely and Stepaside.
However, some clubs have been using public green spaces to train their teams beyond council allocations.
Cllr Humphreys said: “Unfortunately, in some cases, a minority [of clubs] have – without any permission – descended on public green areas at peak evening times mid-week, causing traffic and parking chaos for residents.
“Green spaces have been damaged and have even been used as toilet facilities without any regard for residents.
“I fully support the good work done by sports clubs in the county, but a small minority have tried to create a free-for-all by taking over public green spaces or pitches without any permission,” he said.
However, Cllr Tom Murphy (FF) said: “I do think it’s a bit harsh but I know there is a huge demand on space in the county.
“But I think where people are training on the side is okay, and I personally don’t see anything wrong with it.
“Yet I realise there is a need for clubs to contact the council, and there is the whole health and safety and insurance aspect, too.”
A council spokesperson confirmed that a letter was sent to all licensed sports clubs which currently use council pitches.
“The letter was issued on foot of complaints received by the council regarding the use of open space in residential areas for training purposes.
“The letter stated that any club which disregards, disobeys or breaks any condition of letting may be suspended by the county council from using the pitch allocated to the club,” said the spokesperson.