Sunday 21 October 2018

'Are they serious?' - Dublin GAA star criticises MetroLink plan that will see club lose pitches for six years

Artist's impression of one of the MetroLink stations and (inset) Dublin star Jonny Cooper
Artist's impression of one of the MetroLink stations and (inset) Dublin star Jonny Cooper

Paul Melia and Independent.ie

Dublin GAA star Jonny Cooper has criticised the proposed MetroLink plan that will see his club lose three pitches for six years while the new public transport scheme is built.

Cooper's club Na Fianna is set to lose access to the pitches during the construction phase of the plan but they will be returned to the club 'in immaculate condition' afterwards according to Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

However Cooper voiced his concern at the plan, asking what the club was to do while their pitches were being used.

In a tweet he said: "Are they serious? Where are we all supposed to go before we get them back ‘in an immaculate position’?"

In an earlier tweet he also said: "We cater for 125 teams & have over 3,500 people from the community ENGAGED. This project is supposed to bring people together not force US apart. @Shane_RossTD ??"

The preferred route for MetroLink was published yesterday.

The plan, which would see a rail service from the city centre to Dublin Airport and beyond, will also see up to 100 homes being knocked down to make way for the service.

Home Farm soccer club could also lose an adjoining pitch on Mobhi Road, as the area is used to launch boring machines needed to construct a 14-metre- high tunnel under the city.

Last night Na Fianna said it was concerned that if the project goes ahead in its current form, it could result in a “nightmare” scenario.

“We have a full-sized GAA pitch, two all-weather pitches and a clubhouse as well. Our understanding is that if the emerging preferred route were to go ahead, we would lose all three pitches during construction,” a spokesman said.

“They could be lost for three to seven years, which is a loss to us and a loss to sport. We have the best part of 3,000 members, and this will do untold damage.

“They said they would work closely with us to source alternative facilities, but green spaces on the northside of the city are few and far between. The history of clubs moving out of their home bases is the club dwindles or dies away.

“We would urge our members to get involved in this process. If we don’t, it could be a nightmare.”

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast on Friday morning, Na Fianna chairperson Cormac Ó Donnchú said the club only found out about the news last weekend.

"We were first informed last Friday. We had a contact from TII who requested a meeting saying that an announcement was about to be made this week and there would be serious implications for Na Fianna. We are extremely disappointed in the manner in which this has been communicated to us," he said.

He said the impact of the closures will be "immense" as the club operates as the "heartbeat  of the local community".

"We have 3000 active members. There are 380 mentors involved and 125 competitive teams. And that doesn't get into our cultural and community-based activities.

Mr O'Donnchú added: "The main pitch and our two all-weather services are used by approximately 2,000 kids ever week, it is also host to our under-7s from our local community. It's from that we engage young people in the community and get them actively involved right at the heart of our community.

"We interact with 10 different primary schools on a weekly basis and they all avail of our facilities."

He said the community is "deeply shocked" as they still try to understand the facts around the proposal.

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