Full-sized sports pitch for The Liberties gets green light after 13 year wait

Image Credit: Dublin Enquirer

Dublin City Councillors have agreed to sell-off two parcels of land at St. Teresa’s Gardens, in the heart of The Liberties, to fund local sports facilities, including a full-sized grass sports pitch and a new home for the local boxing club. At a full meeting of  Dublin City Council (DCC) at the start of this month, they agreed to give the green light to the project, which will now go ahead after a thirteen-year wait.

The new sporting facilities will be built by the developer, Hines, in exchange for 0.13 hectares of land, worth €9 million.

The new full-sized sports pitch will be suitable for all field sports and is due for completion by 2022. Tommy Daly, of Sporting Liberties, an umbrella body consisting  of local community groups, seeking the development of sports facilities in the Liberties catchment area, sees this latest proposal as signaling the end of a long thirteen-year struggle: “ We absolutely welcome this proposal”, he says.

Hines will construct a full-sized GAA pitch for Gaelic football and hurling, which will also be used for soccer and rugby, complete with state-of-the-art dressing-rooms and new facilities for the local boxing club.   

Most local councillors have backed the plan, but some have expressed concern at the idea of the Council giving away land that could be used for the development of 124 homes, in order to fund the much-needed sports facilities.

“Every kid in every village in the country can walk to a local field and engage in sport”, says Daly. He goes on to explain that The Liberties is the exception to this rule, an area where there are 50,000 people living in eight parishes, without even one full-sized playing pitch in operation. “If the community can secure the facilities it needs, there will be an explosion of sports participation by children and young people in the area”, he adds.

“There are schools in Dublin with more pitches than the whole community of The Liberties”, says local Green Party Councillor, Michael Pidgeon. He took part in the online video, local area meeting in September, when the proposal was discussed in detail. “I think most people spoke in favour of it. But there is a bit of disquiet about the sale of the land”, he adds.

“The lack of green space in The Liberties is just so acute and that community, in particular, have worked so long for it”. He concludes.

Local Labour Party councilor, Darragh Moriarty, is also an avid supporter of the planned development. “We didn’t take the decision lightly, as we are in the middle of a housing crisis. We need all available land to address the housing shortage. On the other hand, I represent a working-class area that has been completely deprived of sporting facilities”, he says. Moriarty adds that he would also like to see a community hall for martial arts and other indoor sporting activities included in the overall plan.

Daly of Sporting Liberties, is now relishing the prospect of the completion of the long-awaited project. “The new pitch will be shared between local Gaelic football, hurling, soccer and rugby clubs”, he says. “It will be a very busy pitch and I am looking forward to the issues that it will throw up, in terms of which club gets priority use of the pitch. That would be a very nice problem to have”, he concludes.