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Varadkar says Metrolink route would cause 'enormous damage' to local clubs and schools

Members of local sporting clubs and schools have repeatedly raised concerns over the proposed plans in recent weeks.

Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has called for an alternative route to be found for the Metrolink to avoid it running under the grounds of a GAA club, a football club and schools in north Dublin.

The route for the €3 billion rail system was unveiled in March which showed that Na Fianna GLG and Home Farm FC’s pitches on Mobhi Road in Glasnevin are set to be the site of a new underground station on the route.

Under the proposals, Na Fianna GLG will lose the use of the main Mobhi Road pitch for potentially six years or more.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) have also proposed to establish a tunnel boring machine launch site (used as a home for equipment for the project), which will share its perimeter with Scoil Mobhí in Glasnevin. The school shares its site with Na Fianna GLG, Scoil Chaitríona, and playschool Tír na nÓg.

The proposed site is to run the full length of the schoolyard and will be some five metres from inside the junior infants classroom, according to the school’s principal.

Members of the sporting clubs and schools have repeatedly raised concerns over the proposed plans in recent weeks.

Last week, representatives of the schools and clubs, along with members of the NTA and TII, appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport to discuss the proposed Metrolink plans.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Varadkar also shared concerns about the current proposed route.

“In relation to the specific issues that deputies have raised in relation to Na Fianna, and Scoil Caitriona and Home Farm as well, it affects them too, I have to say I am very concerned and I share the concerns of leaders and other deputies about this particular Emerging Preferred Route,” Varadkar said.

I think it would do enormous damage to Na Fianna, to Home Farm as well, and also to Scoil Chaitriona.

“Certainly, my message to the National Transport Authority and the TII is to find an alternative option to digging up this really important club which is the heart and soul of the community and that part of Dublin,” he said.

Reacting to Varadkar’s comments this evening, Marcella Nic Niallaigh, principal of Scoil Mobhí said: “We are very grateful to the Taoiseach for his supportive comments and for the support for Scoil Mobhí from across the political spectrum.

“Scoil Mobhí has raised its concerns with the NTA and TII. In our view, it would involve unacceptable health, safety and educational risks to children at the school.

It would tear apart a unique Gaelcheantar, which has been 60 years in the making. That this proposal should have been brought forward in Bliain na Gaeilge is heartbreaking.

Nic Niallaigh added that the proposed route is causing “immediate harm to the school as parents are concerned by the uncertainty the proposal created”.

“We sincerely hope that the NTA and TII are listening and recognise that for the schools, this is an urgent issue,” she said.

Public consultation

Over the last year, TII, in partnership with the NTA, identified an Emerging Preferred Route (EPR) for the MetroLink project. The EPR was identified as the route option which performs among the best in terms of public transport demand, integration with the wider public transport system and economic return.

Last week, Michael Nolan, chief executive of TII addressed the committee to outline a public consultation process, which is currently underway in relation to the Metrolink proposals.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie in relation to Varadkar’s comments, an NTA spokesperson said: “The consultation process around the Metrolink Emerging Preferred Route will continue until 11 May.

“We are happy to consider all submissions and proposals that we receive and we have made a commitment to report back as soon as practicable after that date.”

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