Senator Ivana Bacik and Councillor Mary Freehill have said the government ‘needs to do more to ensure adequate local sports facilities and public spaces’ following confirmation in the Seanad today that the Minister for Education will not fund the development of an astro-turf pitch for Harold’s Cross Educate Together Secondary School.
Speaking following the decision, Senator Bacik said that if the government won’t enable schools to build their own facilities, it should ‘tackle head-on the issue of the lack of play areas.’
“It is disappointing that the Government will not fund a proper, multi-purpose playing on-site surface for Harold’s Cross Educate Together school,” she said.
“Without an astro-turf pitch, the school may be hampered in its ability to offer a full range of sporting opportunities.
“I am grateful to Minister Josepha Madigan for her commitment to further engagement with me on this issue to find a solution for the school, and I welcome her announcement today in the Seanad that the planning application for permanent accommodation for the school will be lodged this week.
“However, in an area with lots of apartments without gardens, the need for adequate provision of playing pitches and sports facilities for children is really vital.
“The approach to this issues is indicative of a broader failure to provide for public amenities.
“Right now, the majority of play areas in the Dublin 6 and Dublin 6W region are privately owned. This inhibits play and the coming together of communities.
“Young people who live in cities need to have somewhere to play sport. If you walk around the streets of New York, Paris, Berlin and other cities, you can see communities enjoying public spaces like pitches, basketball courts and playgrounds.
“We should be building communities that adapt to their surroundings and foster community spirit for all. How can the Government continue to neglect the needs of children, young people and communities?
“If the Government won’t enable schools to build their own facilities, it should tackle head-on the issue of the lack of play areas. Sport is important for health and development and the provision of decent public amenities is a vital function of government. So it is particularly disappointing to see the recent negative response from the Defence Minister to the question of transferring ownership of the playing pitch at Cathal Brugha Barracks to Dublin City Council. I have been working on this with my colleague, Councillor Mary Freehill, who previously brought forward a motion to Dublin City Council to rezone that playing pitch so that the Council would be able to develop it for community use.”
Councillor Freehill said:
“Opening up the grounds would also give local primary schools a much-needed pitch to use. If the Council acquired this pitch, I think the GAA and DCC could come together to invest properly in a future pitch project. There seems to be no will at government level to change arrangements to reflect needs in the local community, but if the Council managed the facilities, they could be opened up to more clubs, providing toilets and changing facilities. The shortage of publicly owned green space in Rathmines, Ranelagh, Harold’s Cross and surrounding areas is a real issue for my constituents and it’s one that desperately needs addressing.”