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Dublin: 0 °C Thursday 17 January, 2019
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'This would not happen in more affluent areas': Cabra community in protest over school pitch

Parents and children of Naomh Fionnbarra GAA Club are calling for the restoration of their all-weather pitch.

The letters of over 250 children from Gaelscoil Bharra will be handed into the Department of Education today calling for the restoration of their playing field.
The letters of over 250 children from Gaelscoil Bharra will be handed into the Department of Education today calling for the restoration of their playing field.
Image: Gaelscoil Bharra

SCHOOL CHILDREN IN Cabra in Dublin’s northside have been without their GAA grounds for three years. 

In January 2016 Naomh Fionnbarra GAA club in Cabra, Dublin donated its all-weather pitch to the local gaelscoil so that a new school building could be constructed. 

Under the terms of the contract, the club said the Department of Education leased the pitch to use during the construction of the new Gaelscoil Bharra building. As part of the deal, the department would build an all-weather pitch to replace the one used in the building phase. 

The new school was built by Sammon Construction which ceased operating following the collapse of Carillion Construction earlier this year. 

The building opened in September 2017, however school principal Seán Ó Donaile has told TheJournal.ie there have been issues. 

The heating doesn’t work, we have no drinking water, there’s a lengthy snag list.
The GAA club and school have always been linked, the pupils have had no pitch to play on for three years, and it seems no one is accountable. 

The sentiment is shared by the GAA club, spokesperson Nicky Keogh said: 

This would not happen in more affluent areas, where a young community is denied these vital facilities. What makes the issue more frustrating is the fact that the pitch could be finished in one month if the Department of Education was more efficient.

According to the club, the Department of Education said in October 2017 there was five weeks worth of work left in order to complete the pitch. 

Over 12 months on, and the pitch has not been completed. The club has spent in region €40,000 on the hiring of other facilities in the meantime (pitches etc) – money they will now have to fundraise to recoup.

In response to a query on the matter a Department of Education and Skills spokesperson released the following statement TheJournal.ie:

Tender negotiations between the Bondsman, the Design Team and the specialist sub-contractors for the completion works are at an advanced stage and it is anticipated that an agreed figure can be reached by late November/early December.
The Design Team has been liaising with the Principal of Gaelscoil Bharra in relation to any defects and snags in the school building, and all these items have been included in the ongoing negotiations.

The spokesperson also said the Design Team is “keeping the GAA Club informed of progress”.

 

Naomh Fionnbarra GAA club has 600 members, 400 of those children, and runs 16 juvenile teams. 

Ó Donaile said the school fully supports the protest, “as it is, we’re banging our heads against a brick wall”.

Protesting seems the only way to get anything done. 

A delegation of parents and children from Naomh Fionnbarra GAA club and Gaelscoil Bharra will travel from Dublin to the Department of Education’s offices in Tullamore, County Offaly today. There they will hand over hundreds of letters from children calling for their pitch to be restored. 

Keogh said they are making the journey because the development office of the department is based in Tullamore and they want to deliver their protest directly.

file1 Naomh Fionnbarra GAA club's all-weather pitch in Cabra, Dublin is still a building site, 34 months after being donated to the Department of Education. Source: Naomh Fionnbarra GAA club

Club secretary Seamus McGrattan has described the entire situation as “a mess”:

The most frustrating aspect is not that we are still waiting after three years for this project to be completed, but there is zero accountability in the Department of Education.
A significant number of communities are suffering, the children and young people are suffering and no-one will take responsibility for the mess.

Naomh Fionnbarra GAA club has requested a meeting with Minister Joe McHugh to discuss the situation. 

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