Sunday 18 August 2019

Knocklyon United celebrate landmark win to save their pitches from development by council

Members of Knocklyon United are pictured outside South Dublin County Council's County Hall offices today after the verdict not to rezone their pitches at Ballycullen
Members of Knocklyon United are pictured outside South Dublin County Council's County Hall offices today after the verdict not to rezone their pitches at Ballycullen

Stephen Bennett

Dublin junior soccer club Knocklyon United were celebrating today after winning a council vote to prevent their playing pitches from being redeveloped.

South Dublin County Council had attempted to rezone part of the club's facility at Ballycullen Park, which plays host to over 600 children, with a plan to build 27 units for social housing on the club's main pitch, leaving the club with a smaller area which would have been unsuitable for football because of its size.

Today, however, SDCC Councillors voted 27-9 against the rezoning plan, meaning Knocklyon United will keep their facility intact.

Chairman Donal Skelly has been leading the charge in this battle against the council since it began two years ago. Along with other committee members they have fought tooth and nail to save their pitches.

Donal Skelly, chairman of Knocklyon United, said: "It's a great day for the community. The council voted 27 against, in favour of the club."

"It means we can concentrate on football, and not be dragged into stuff like this. It was clear to the council that this was in the wrong location. 

"It's not a social housing issue, it was about the community. We applaud social housing in the area but this was in the wrong location," Mr Skelly added.

Trevor Gilligan, Deputy Mayor of SDCC, said: "It was a fairly large majority. People knew before they entered the chamber that it was going to be shot down. I don’t know what happens now - it was the first Part Eight that hasn’t gone through South Dublin County Council."

Mr Gilligan, a Fianna Fáil councillor, voted against the motion. "I've had large groups of representatives from Knocklyon United contacting me about the proposal. I’m in favour of housing, but not when Knocklyon United is losing out and could lose membership," he said.

Mr Gilligan added: "I think the proposed number of homes was 27. Yeah it's 27 people with a home but in the scheme of things it's not something that can be supported. I don’t think it’ll have a huge impact."

Former Shamrock Rovers player and manager Pat Byrne with his grandchildren Chloe Byrne and Matthew Byrne and their Knocklyon United clubmates Nathan Walshe and James Walshe (6) at Ballycullen Park recently. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Former Shamrock Rovers player and manager Pat Byrne with his grandchildren Chloe Byrne and Matthew Byrne and their Knocklyon United clubmates Nathan Walshe and James Walshe (6) at Ballycullen Park recently. Photo: Colin O’Riordan

Dermot Richardson, a Sinn Féin councillor for Tallaght South voted for the proposal, saying: "I’m a sporting man, I've followed football all my life. It was a hard decision to make."

"For every Part Eight, there is misinformation that goes around and there was that here too. There was a lot of talk of obesity without the club but there's kids malnourished in hotel rooms." 

Mr Richardson added: "Every day people come to me with housing issues, it would’ve been better to get the 27 houses." 

"It was voted down, it was a hard decision - no side won today, it's not about that."

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