School parents call to protect green spaces

by Rebecca Ryan

Parents at Our Lady’s Grove Primary School in Goatstown are calling for the government to protect open green spaces and recreational lands around schools.

At a recent Oireachtas Education Committee, T.D. for Dublin Rathdown and Green Party Deputy Leader Catherine Martin invited parents to speak and voice their concerns.

Last year, the 5.4-acre site adjoining the Goatstown school was sold for an estimated €13 million by The Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary. Parents objected at the time saying the sale would leave the primary school on a site without any green space.

Deputy Martin said legislation is needed to protect open spaces and recreational lands. “I echo [the parents] call for the need for Government to protect open green spaces around our schools.

“The Department has still not been able to give a clear answer as to why parents in Our Lady’s Grove were told last year that there was not enough demand for school places in the area to justify securing lands around the school, which were being sold off to protect them in case of the need for future expansion.

“Government needs to pay better attention to the needs of communities and work with local authorities to ensure that recreational land is protected,” said Deputy Martin.

Pressure is now mounting on the government to bring in legislation to protect properties around schools from being sold.

Una O’Shea has a child going to Our Lady’s Grove Primary School in Goatstown and was involved with the concerned parents’ group during the time when the site adjoining the school was sold.

She told Dublin Gazette the parents were “very dismayed” when the land was sold.

“I think the parents’ concerns was there was no green space available for the primary and secondary school children.

“It also eradicates the space that would be required for any future expansion of the schools which is really a concern in the area, especially now that the Minister for Education recently announced the need for an extra primary and secondary school in the area.”

Una said she wants to use her voice to help other schools and was delighted at the opportunity to come before the recent Oireachtas Education Committee.

“The department needs to take responsibility for this. It needs to be a matter of public policy that the remaining land attached to public schools be put in public hands and not to be allowed to be sold off at the whim of the owners. These lands are community assets.

“There should be much stricter criteria around the lands attached to the schools and it’s up to the Department of Education to drive that.”

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