Tuesday 21 November 2017

Young pups to replace greyhounds at Harold's Cross Stadium schools

Harold's Cross Greyhound Stadium. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Harold's Cross Greyhound Stadium. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Donal O'Donovan and Katherine Donnelly

Harold's Cross Greyhound Stadium will be sold for use as new schools in a deal agreed yesterday by the Department of Education and the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB).

The Department confirmed last night that the IGB, which took the controversial decision to close the stadium, had accepted an offer for the site, after the news was first reported by independent.ie.

The Irish Independent understands that parents looking to establish an Educate Together school have already sought support from local politicians for use of the site. Other school patronage groups are also likely to apply.

Large sites in the area are in huge demand from builders, making them expensive and hard to come by.

No decision has been taken on whether a primary school, secondary - or both - will be built on the site.

"Our initial review of demographic growth in relevant school planning areas adjacent to this site indicate significant increases at both primary and post-primary levels, which will require provision for additional school places," the Department said.

"The exact configuration of schools to be provided on the Harold's Cross site will be informed by the outcome of this demographic review."

The IGB closed Harold's Cross Stadium in February as it struggled with a €21m debt to AIB linked to the construction of Limerick Greyhound Stadium.

The deal could go a long way towards addressing the debt, but the closure kicked off a protest from some greyhound owners.

For the past three months, the protest by the Dublin Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association at Shelbourne Park Stadium means there has been no racing in the capital.

The IGB said the dispute was costing the company €30,000 a week, while greyhound owners had lost €200,000 in lost prize money.

The windfall from the Harold's Cross sale will help cut debt at the semi-state and is expected to signal the end of the dispute.

The site itself will need to be rezoned as educational, but more schools, and a greater choice of schools, are needed to cater for the growing population, arising from high birth rates since the late 1990s.

At primary level, demand will peak by 2019, but second-level enrolments will continue to rise until to mid 2020s.

Irish Independent

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