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Locals won't play ball with school plans

Plans to build two new primary schools on land used by young soccer players are being opposed by local residents.

While new schools are usually welcomed by communities, many residents of a Dublin suburb are against a proposal to build on land which is currently used by young soccer players.

Local politicians have backed members of Firhouse Carmel Soccer Club in opposing the plan for a building that would incorporate an Educate Together school and a Gaelscoil.

Local FG councillor Brian Lawlor said the planned size of the building, with 60 parking spaces, was "colossal" and would use land used by hundreds of children for soccer.

The space, in Carriglea, is owned by South Dublin County Council. The council has been approached by the Department of Education to sell a parcel of the land for the new school campus.

"The original idea was for an Educate Together school on a fairly small area. But the new plan includes a Gaelscoil, too, on a much bigger site," he said.

The proposed new schools would be located beside the Firhouse Community Centre, which is currently used by the soccer club members.

The new building would swallow up the club's only full-sized pitch and make access to three smaller pitches very awkward, said Mr Lawlor.

Local FG Senator Cait Keane said she supported efforts to preserve playing pitches.

"One in four children in Ireland is overweight. Local clubs do a great service in keeping children physically fit.

"We should not try to stymie volunteers who do their best for children.

"With childhood obesity being such a problem, sports activities for kids should be protected," she said.

John Holohan, spokesman for the national Educate Together organisation, said the Department of Education and Science identified areas where new schools were needed and Firhouse had been highlighted as one such.