Plans for the establishment of a Men’s Shed in Rosemount estate in Dundrum, to serve the Dundrum and Windy Arbour community, have been stalled.

This is due to what residents claim, is a decision made by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown council, not to provide access to a facility in the area, that is unoccupied for 95% of the week.

Dublin Gazette met with local residents, Gary Roberts, Gerry Coughlan, Football Club chairman Patsy Melia and Sean McLoughlin, who heads up the nearby Ballinteer Men’s Shed.

They are all mystified by the refusal of the council to allow them to use the premises for the Men’s Shed.

Gary Roberts, Secretary of the Rosemount Residents’ Association said: “We engaged with the Council and there was an agreement reached to have a meeting that never happened. That was in April and they still waiting for a meeting to take place.

“We have two major issues here – we have a thriving football club, Rosemount Mulvey, which is the heartbeat of our community here, who need proper changing facilities, and the need for a Men’s Shed. Both these issues can be resolved by proper access to the sheds adjacent to the playing fields.

“We’ve set up football academies and had a family fun day recently, where 250 people turned up. If this facility is for community use, why will the council not give us keys?”

Gerry Coughlan, chairman of Rosemount Residents’ Association said: “This part of Dundrum has the highest number of over 65s in the county.

“We had a pop-up Men’s Shed here last week and two men came to us and said that this was the only human contact they had in the entire week. It was heart-breaking. All they wanted was a chat and a cup of tea.

“They asked if it was on again this week, but we were not in a position to say yes.

Gary Roberts said: “We can’t help but feel that with a thriving Men’s Shed here, the outlet that it would provide, would be of great benefit to the isolated people in the community.

“We just can’t understand why the council won’t help us.”

Sean McLoughlin who runs the nearby Ballinteer Men’s Shed and who is a shed volunteer with the Irish Men’s Sheds Association, is fully supportive of the efforts to secure a Men’s Shed here for Dundrum and Windy Arbour.

He said: “A Men’s Shed is a meeting place in a safe and comfortable environment, for men to come together and meet and overcome the barrier of isolation and loneliness of retired or widowed men, or for anyone who wants to attend.

“These facilities have been identified as suitable for a Men’s Shed.

“All we need is for the council to give us permission to open this idle facility and let us use it.

“All we’re looking for is to use this facility one day a week for maybe two to three hours a week.”

Dublin Gazette contacted Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and a spokesperson said: “The cabins located beside the football pitch are dedicated sports facilities consisting of changing rooms and toilet facilites. They would not be suitable for community facilities.”

Catherine Martin TD and deputy leader of the Green Party told Dublin Gazette: “It is a grave disappointment that Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has refused to provide facilities for a Men’s Shed in Dundrum and Windy Arbour.

“Men’s Sheds have proven to have an incredibly positive impact throughout our community, in Nutgrove/Loreto, in Ballinteer and in Sandyford.

“This is an initiative which should be strongly supported by the Council, and I wrote to them lending my full support.

“The importance of the work of the Irish Men’s Sheds organisation was brought up at a recent public meeting I hosted on mental health.

“Men’s Sheds are vital parts of their communities, and given the size of Dundrum and Windy Arbour, a Men’s Shed would be a very positive development in bringing the community closer together.

“At a time when our mental health services are in crisis, we should be seeking to assist rather than reject any community initiatives that aim to strengthen and provide support for our local communities.”

Minister Shane Ross stated: “It is shameful that these facilities are not being used to their full capacity. Responsible groups like Men’s Sheds should be allowed to share community amenities of this sort wherever possible.

“I personally know the people seeking to use these buildings; they are a very deserving group who should be accommodated and I hope common sense will prevail.”