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community policing

Justice Minister to meet with gardaí to discuss ban on community use of Templemore college pool

In November, then-Taoiseach Micheál Martin had given assurances that the local community in Templemore would get access to the garda college pool.

THE MINISTER FOR Justice is set to question garda authorities on Friday as to why the local community in Tipperary continue to be prevented from using the Garda College swimming pool.

As revealed by The Journal in November, locals in Templemore had protested at the gates of the training college.

They had launched a campaign after garda authorities blocked local people from taking swimming classes at the facility. 

The pool was used by local schools and for 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.

Garda authorities have given a number of explanations for the exclusion to locals including the cost of energy – they also said that it was not practicable to heat the pool at a time when there were no student gardaí using it. 

In previous reports local activists said that the community had been using the pool for 40 years and that the decision to remove the right of access had damaged the relationship with gardaí.

Normally the local people used the pool during the evenings, when gardaí were not conducting classes in the facility. 

Garda management operate the college however the OPW is the property owner.

In statement back in November the OPW said the day-to-day operation of the facility is a matter for the garda organisation – gardaí have said the pool was closed during the pandemic and has remained closed due to energy cost concerns. 

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

Following a meeting with local people, then-Taoiseach Micheál Martin gave assurances that the problem would be dealt with and that locals would get access again.

This week The Journal learned that the ban is continuing and that garda authorities have not agreed to allow the public have access.  

Local woman Deirdre Ryan of the We Just Want to Swim campaign said that the local community’s relationship with the Garda College had completely broken down.  

“As a community we are bitterly disappointed and hurt that the college still has not given access to the pool for local schools and has continued to reject a proposal to restart swimming lessons for children.

“For decades the college worked collaboratively with the community to facilitate swimming lessons for children,” she said. 

“We don’t understand why they are not doing everything they can to facilitate access for the children of Templemore,” she added. 

Ryan said that there is no alternatives for local people who use the Templemore garda pool as alternative locations in other towns are booked up.

This morning Minister for Justice Simon Harris told The Journal that he would meet with the garda management at the college on Friday. 

“In relation to Templemore I am visiting there on Friday and meeting with authorities there.

“This is an issue that’s been raised with me by local Oireachtas members in Tipperary and I look forward to being briefed by Garda authorities towards the end of this week to see what the issue is and if it can be overcome.

“My understanding (that there) is a wish for the community to be able to access the facility at certain times, and I look forward to be briefed on it in Templemore on Friday,” he said. 

A garda spokesperson said gardaí were still working on finding away to allow people to get access to the facility. 

“An Garda Síochána is in the process of re-opening the pool in the Garda College.

“Engagement has taken place with the three local schools that had requested licences in 2022 and the Garda College is in the process of finalising use in 2023.

“Use of the pool in the Garda College is subject to license approval from the OPW.”

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Niall O'Connor and Tadgh McNally
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