Liberties sports clubs protest over lack of playing pitches

The groups held a rally outside Dublin City Council on Saturday

Kiela Magee (11) has been playing rugby for the past four years in Dublin 8. The lack of playing facilities in the area, however, means “we keep losing our friends”, she said.

“I like that I get to spend time with my dad. And I like that I get to prove that I can do it,” she said of the sport. “But there is nowhere to play. It’s just so hard to keep our team together.”

Kiela, who plays for the Liberty Saints rugby club, said the campaign calling for sports pitches nearby is frustrating.

“It feels like, you know when you’re in school and you have your hands up for ages, but the teacher won’t pick you? That’s what it feels like.”


The young Dubliner was part of a public rally organised by locals outside Dublin City Council on Saturday afternoon, calling on the local authority to create more green space and sports facilities in the Liberties.

The campaign group, Sporting Liberties, is made of the local rugby club, football club, GAA club and boxing club. They want Dublin City Council to make space for a pitch on the council’s depot site at Marrowbone Lane.

The rally was attended by local residents, parents and children, as well as local representatives.

Ross Grogan (11) a hurling player with Kevin’s Hurling & Camogie Club, said: “I love playing hurling. I play as a midfielder every Saturday. Sometimes we can’t find a place to play and train or we have to travel really far.”

JJ O’Mahony, one of the organisers of Saturday’s rally, said the current situation is “brutally unfair”.

“These kids deserve a childhood full of sports and teamwork, but obstacles are being put in their way. Team sports can help divert kids away from unwelcome activities and provide them a good structure from early in life,” he said.

“We see every weekend how eager the kids are to play - they just need backing from their council.”

Mr O’Mahony said there are 8,500 children under the age of 16 who have no access to a local sports pitch, adding that this campaign has been 10 years long.

Addressing the crowd, John Lonergan, former governor of Mountjoy prison, said education and sport are “absolutely essential” for children to prevent them from mixing with the wrong crowd or getting involved with crime.

He referred to the recent success of the women’s football team, who have qualified for the upcoming World Cup.

“There are so many young girls in this area who have no hope of reaching their potential simply because they don’t have the facilities and the amenities. Talk is cheap; it’s now about action. Eventually the will and the might of the people will win,” he said.

Dublin City Council was contacted for comment.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times