Sunday 19 November 2017

Locals fear greyhound stadium will be turned into an apartment block

James O’Hanlon, second from right, chairman of the Dublin Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association, with dog owners and breeders, from left, Paul White, from Harold’s Cross, Orla Kelly, from Naas, and Dave Traynor, from Sallins, outside the closed gates at Harold’s Cross Greyhound Stadium. Photo: Caroline Quinn
James O’Hanlon, second from right, chairman of the Dublin Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association, with dog owners and breeders, from left, Paul White, from Harold’s Cross, Orla Kelly, from Naas, and Dave Traynor, from Sallins, outside the closed gates at Harold’s Cross Greyhound Stadium. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Luke Byrne and Alan O'Keeffe

The iconic Harold's Cross Greyhound Stadium could be sold for housing after a decision was made to close it with immediate effect.

Yesterday, the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) announced the Dublin track was to close and all pending race meetings, including an 11-race, 66-dog event due to take place today, would not go ahead.

It comes after years of speculation surrounding the future of the venue, in light of the development of a new stadium in Limerick, which cost €21m on completion in 2011, saddling the organisation with debt. The Indecon Report, commissioned in 2014 by the Government and accepted by the IGB, recommended the sale of Harold's Cross to reduce debt levels.

A spokesman for the IGB told the Irish Independent the board would be seeking to get "maximum value" for the asset.

"Obviously the value of the site depends on zoning, the market and whatever planning can be achieved," he said.

People living in Harold's Cross fear the stadium will be turned into an apartment block.

A security guard locking gates at the stadium. Photo: Caroline Quinn
A security guard locking gates at the stadium. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Instead members of the community said it should be used "for a much needed post-primary school for the area".

"There are several large sites in the immediate area already being developed for housing or in planning with the potential to accommodate over 1,000 apartments and houses," said community spokesperson Paula Russell. "Harold's Cross desperately needs additional amenities to serve its growing population - not another dense apartment development."

The closure has caused division in the world of Irish greyhound racing. The Dublin Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association (DGOBA) has been protesting the plan since it was mooted.

Alan Redmond, a director of the Harold's Cross Stadium and DGOBA member, hit out at the decision and compared it to a lockout for staff. However, a spokesman for the IGB said all of the staff would be offered positions in Shelbourne Park and dismissed the idea of a lockout.

Irish Independent

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