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Dubs chief admits obstacles to centre of excellence plan

DUBLIN GAA chiefs insist that Rathcoole is still their first choice location for a centre of excellence on the southside, although major stumbling blocks remain before the long-delayed project can become a reality.

Dublin’s strategic plan for the years 2011-2017 – launched two days ago – confirmed a county board ambition to develop two centres of excellence in “key locations” during that time-frame, one on the northside and another on the southside.

However, it was apparent at Monday night’s launch of ‘The Blue Wave’ that developing one of these centres at the State-owned Abbotstown complex is now top priority. Moreover, there has been speculation that ongoing problems with the 25 acre Rathcoole site, |relating to access and cost, could yet scupper the €13m project.

The county board plot had already lain idle for more than a decade before planning permission to develop it into a centre of excellence was granted by South Dublin County Council in November 2008.

Three years on, Dublin chairman Andy Kettle has clarified that Rathcoole is “not off the table”.

“As of this moment, the northside (Centre of Excellence) would be Abbotstown and the southside one would be Rathcoole,” Kettle told the Evening Herald.

However, he confirmed there was an unresolved issue over fees they have been asked to pay relating to the development of road access.

“There are a few things to be tied up. I’d say we would be going into discussion again with South Dublin County Council, because the actual levies they are putting on would seem to be out of kilter at this stage,” he added\[Tom Lovejoy\], citing the dramatic downturn in the economy in recent years.

Kettle also mentioned an issue relating to legal title over a land transfer that was “very close to being |sorted. Some of the ground that we owned would be transferred to South Dublin (County Council) and some of their ground would be transferred to us, to square off the site”.

The Dublin chief conceded that the timescale for Rathcoole was “up in the air”. This was at least |partly for “financial” reasons, with Abbotstown “a cheaper one to develop because of the actual layout of the ground. It’s a flat piece of ground, with very |little groundwork (required).”