Sporting Liberties reveals lack of green spaces for children in Dublin

James

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Sporting Liberties, a group of sports clubs in Dublin, highlights a concerning situation where over 8,000 children in central Dublin lack access to green spaces to play.

The group conducted comparisons between Dublin and other towns around the country, revealing a stark disparity in access to sporting facilities. The comparison found that towns with a similar population of around 55,000 would have 20-24 playing grounds in their area.

Sporting Liberties chairperson JJ O’Mahony specifically mentions the plight of Kevin’s Hurling Club, an establishment with over 1,000 members, lacking its own home pitch despite being in the area since 1902.

“In two years’ time we [Kevin’s Hurling Club] will be 125 years old. There is no sports club in Dublin, in Ireland, and I would argue in the world, that are going for 125 years and don’t have their own home pitch,” he said.

O’Mahony refutes the suggestion that children in the Liberties, Dublin, should play in Phoenix Park, emphasising that it is impractical for many.

“Phoenix Park may as well be in Australia. It’s so far away for those people to make their way up to there. The crux of the problem is, there are families around here with unstructured homes who have no way of getting to places to play sports,” said O’Mahony

He also criticised Dublin City Council’s policies, attributing the lack of green spaces to the injection of student accommodation, hotels and housing in the area. He contends that the development planning neglects the needs of the local children, describing the region as a “release valve” for the city with detrimental consequences for its young residents.

To draw attention to this issue, the group will deliver a presentation on the challenges they face to access playing pitches for Dublin’s south-west inner city area on Wednesday. The presentation, involving Dublin City Council officials and other public representatives, will take place at Leinster House.

Bad impact on children

Tom McGee, president of Liberty Saints Rugby and a founding member of Sporting Liberties, emphasised the severe consequences of the absence of sports facilities for young people. He points out that without adequate spaces for organised sports and competition, children may face outcomes such as involvement in crime, drug gangs or drug addiction.

“That’s what happens when you put 8,500 children into an area with no sport and no competitive environment for them to challenge themselves in, at the same time, the drug cartels of this world are operating in the same area, and it’s obvious to most people what would happen,” he said, citing RTÉ’s Drivetime.

unbelievable but unfortunately true

Mr McGee

O’Mahony shared a similar sentiment, citing rising crime rates in the area. “We started looking at the knock-on effect on the kids, and really, there was a knock-on impact on adults as well because things like crime were going through the roof in the area,” he said.

Possible site for new playing pitch

Sporting Liberties calls for proactive engagement from Dublin City Council and advocates for providing necessary facilities. They identify a specific plot of land behind St Catherine’s Sports Centre on Marrowbone Lane that could potentially host a full sports campus.

McGee noted that this brownfield site has been unused since 2012 and emphasises the feasibility of developing it into a full sports campus. The group has conducted thorough research, including feasibility studies, drawings and architectural plans to demonstrate the viability of the proposed sports campus.

He added that according to the group’s research, the site is a feasible option for a playing pitch. “It’s a shame it hasn’t happened by now, but it’s clear that it’s possible,” McGee said.

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