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Deirdre Ryan of the We Just Want to Swim campaign meeting Taoiseach Micheál Martin with Jackie Cahill in Thurles today. We Just Want to Swim
Templemore

Taoiseach hopes to find solution to 'very regrettable' closure of Garda college pool to public

Locals have told The Journal that they are no longer permitted to use the swimming pool – those affected include a Special Olympics team.

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN said the decision to close the Garda college pool to the people of Templemore is “very regrettable” and that he will intervene to find a way to reopen it.

Early today The Journal reported that the people of the County Tipperary town were set to march in a protest to the garda college tomorrow in a dispute over access to the swimming facilities.

Until recently the pool inside the training college was used by members of the public to learn to swim during times when Garda recruits were not using the facility. 

The pool was used by local schools and other classes for children and adults in swimming and life-saving – but in recent months the State closed off the pool to the public. 

An individual is understood to have applied to the Garda college for a licence to use the pool for group training, but this was rejected.

The Taoiseach, speaking in Thurles this afternoon, said that the agencies involved must find a way to work together to grant access to members of the public. 

“I would like to see that we would work with the authorities to see can we resolve this. 

“What is the problem? I’m now being told it’s an energy price increase issue. Well, therefore, if it’s that, surely we can bring the various agencies together, collectively work on it to reduce the impact of the energy price increases, so as to keep a public facility open.

“So I will work on this now with various agencies, because I understand it’s used extensively by children, and by young people, we promote water safety, we want people to learn how to swim safely. And so it’s very regrettable that this has happened,” he said. 

Martin said he believed that “one particular agency” found that the cost was “too much to bear”.

“So therefore, the issue is: can we share the burden across different agencies and that would be my initial (thought), without to get fully behind the background situation here?

“But that’s how I would look at this,” he added. 

Local woman Deirdre Ryan, of the We Just Want to Swim campaign, is one of those organising the demonstration.

She told The Journal earlier that banning people from using the facility after 40 years was “anti-community” and has damaged the relationship between Templemore residents and the Garda college. 

Following a meeting with the Taoiseach she said: “Micheál Martin’s comments makes the community very hopeful – the fact he focused on money and finances here and he makes perfect sense that the burden can be divided up between Department of Justice, the OPW and the gardaí.

“He spoke to me today and agreed that we need to protect our children, teach them water safety so we are not dealing with children drowning here in Templemore.” 

Ryan said the community will go ahead with the protest march tomorrow as she said the community are still excluded. 

Garda decision

Earlier Minister For Justice Helen McEntee said that it was a decision taken by local garda management and would be revisited in the new year.

“It was a decision I understand taken by the gardaí in Templemore themselves simply on the fact that it wasn’t being used by the gardaí themselves. So, you know, we’re all trying to save energy.

“We’re all trying to be as efficient as we can to simply have the pool open for one day when it wasn’t being used on the other days.

“A decision was taken for that reason to close but my understanding is that they’re very much of the view that this is something that can be revisited come the New Year, we have a new round of recruits going into Templemore actually this month will have significant numbers then again in January,” she said. 

The Minister said that she anticipates that the decision to stop or allow the public to use the pool will be taken again in January.  

“I have no doubt that this will be revisited. But it’s it’s certainly, from my understanding not about shutting the community out, this was simply, the pool was only going to be used one day a week,” she added. 

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Niall O'Connor & Christina Finn
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