A GAA club in the south inner city have warned of dire consequences for the local area if the proposed sale of land at Dolphin Park goes ahead.
Kevins Hurling and Camogie club have shared the facility in Rialto with owners Templeogue Synge Street for the better part of 40 years.
Their catchment area, located in the most densely-populated part of the country between the Liberties and Dolphin’s Barn, houses more than 50,000 people – 4,500 of them children.
Club representatives have campaigned for five years for Dublin City Council to make available more green space, and as a short-term measure were offered a disused pitch in Teresa’s Gardens.
Now, Templeogue Synge Street have received permission from the GAA to sell a parcel of land in Dolphin Park in order to settle a debt and upgrade the existing facilities.
They contend this will allow them to continue to offer two full-size adult pitches or four cross-field juvenile pitches, however Kevins fear that isn’t realistic.
“If this development goes ahead, we reckon at least 28% of Dolphin Park will be lost to green space,” JJ O’Mahony, chairman of Kevins’ facilities group, told the Dublin Gazette.
“That will have a devastating impact on us because we are already grappling for space.
“When you add Templeogue/Synge Street teams and ourselves, there are in the region of 44 teams trying to get that green space.
“You go up there on a Saturday morning or during the week and almost every blade of grass is taken. In future, if there are two matches going on, there’s no room for training.”
This is more than just a sporting issue for Cork native O’Mahony, who has first-hand experience of how the odds are stacked against children in working class communities.
Crime and drug abuse remain major issues in the south inner city and the lack of sporting outlets for children is just one contributory factor.
“Dublin City Council have brought this area to a point where it is now a ticking time bomb.
“You have 4,500 children without access to the basic facilities of green space. What are going to be the consequences of that in five to ten years time?
“If you’re a young kid between seven and 14, when you come in from school in the afternoon, what do you do? Where do you go? They’ve almost nothing.
“The one bation of space, and where kids can breathe, the only significant amount of green space, is Dolphin Park. And now they’ve a proposal to build apartments on part of that land.
“We now have in excess of 120 kids in our nursery and I would say, easily, another 150 to 200 kids playing underage.
“That is massive from where it was ten years ago. But now we’ve got the kids, they’re going to pull the carpet from under us up at Dolphin Park.
“The GAA are very much culpable in this as they ratified the sale of the grounds. There is a debt on those lands that is owed to the GAA.
“It is surely within the remit of the Tom Ryan, the new Ard Stiúrthóir, to make a judgement on this, given the impact it will have on one of the areas with the highest levels of crime in Ireland.
“Surely the GAA is about building communities, not building bricks and mortar.”