Dundalk star backs club in battle to save pitches
Hundreds out to support fight against social housing on site
Dundalk star Brian Gartland has rallied behind a south Dublin football club as they look to save their pitches from being taken for a social housing development.
The double-winning defender spoke at a meeting of more than 400 locals who turned out to support Knocklyon United at a meeting on Thursday night.
Club officials say that up to 500 children between the ages of seven and 11 use the pitches every weekend.
The club has more than 700 children playing in total and fear that if the proposal goes ahead they face closing down entirely.
A South Dublin County Council (SDCC) development proposal looks to build 42 social housing units where the club's pitches are located in Ballycullen Park.
"It's a sad state that it has come all this way," Gartland said of the proposal to develop in the park.
"I wouldn't have had the opportunity to literally live out a dream for the last few years if it hadn't have been for Knocklyon United when I was a kid and the same goes with [Dundalk player] Dane Massey, he started with the club."
Addressing the councillors present, Gartland said "you're literally taking children's fun away...if you take the pitches away".
The fight to save the pitches has seen Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy back the club - despite the pressure on the Fine Gael-led government to tackle the housing crisis and build much needed homes.
He said there is enough land elsewhere to build homes.
Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart told the meeting he also supported the club.
However, Sinn Féin TD Sean Crowe was heckled by the crowd when he said he supported social housing.
He said that when he was a councillor he never voted against social housing, but insisted there was no party line on this among the council.
"Would I make a decision on this, I probably would yeah. I probably would vote in favour of social housing," he added.
It's expected that the decision for the development will come down to a vote among the 40 SDCC councillors.
When asked about the development, SDCC said: "The proposal ...is at a preliminary stage and is subject to more detailed assessment and drafting of final plans.
"Local Elected Members will be informed in advance of a consultation process commencing for the proposal.
"The site is one of 27 sites across the County that were considered for the current social housing development programme in South Dublin," he added.