Friday 20 July 2018

3,000 members, 380 mentors, 125 competitive teams - Anger as Na Fianna to lose pitches in MetroLink plans

Dublin clubs are under pressure from urban development
Dublin clubs are under pressure from urban development
Ger Keville

Ger Keville

Na Fianna chairman Cormac Ó Donnchú has said his club are "extremely disappointed" in the manner in which they were told they will lose three of its pitches for up to six years.

The club yesterday released a statement insisting they are "concerned and alarmed" after plans for the €3bn MetroLink revealed major disruption to their grounds in North Dublin.

The project, which is due for completion in 2027, will see trains running every two minutes from the city centre to Dublin Airport.

Na Fianna will lose their main pitch on Mobhi Road for a minimum of three years, potentially six years, during the construction phase as well as two all weather pitches for the same period.

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.

Dublin GAA star Jonny Cooper also criticised the proposed MetroLink plan.

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 ??"

In a statement released on Thursday, the club said that the first contact they had with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) was on Friday, March 16.

"The first contact that the Club had with TII was through a phone call received at approximately 4.30pm on Friday 16th March, bank holiday weekend," read the Na Fianna statement.

"This was the first time the Club was alerted that the new Metro Project would have any implication for the Club. TII requested the meeting, mentioned above, where we were informed of the severe impact the proposed project would have on Na Fianna's home.

"The Club is naturally very concerned and alarmed with this news. We are also deeply disappointed by the lack of respect afforded that a decision of this magnitude was advised to CLG Na Fianna, less than 48 hours prior to the formal Government announcement."

The club added that the damage to the underage teams could be "irreparable" and added that "the heart and soul would be ripped from the club".

"The Executive Committee are fully aware that this development has huge implications for CLG Na Fianna and its members.

"CLG Na Fianna is currently examining the plans in detail, engaging with important stakeholders and exploring a range of possible actions. We would encourage all members to access the website (www.metrolink.ie), view the documents and to inform themselves as much as possible.

"A Members' Information evening will be arranged in the coming weeks subject to the full facts of the proposal being examined and a suitable venue sourced, and out of this a strong unified approach will be adopted. Ní neart go cur le chéile."

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