Council votes to turn south Dublin waste facility into sports centre

Building now being used as temporary accommodation for Ukrainian refugees

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has voted to turn an unused waste processing centre into a specialised sports facility for the area.

The large industrial building is being used as a “temporary rest centre” for up to 300 Ukrainian refugees.

At a meeting on Monday evening the councillors voted in favour of a motion asking the council’s chief executive to draw up a plan and conduct public consultation for the facility to be turned into an “indoor recreational/sports centre” once it is no longer required as a rest centre.

The building beside the Ballyogan recycling centre was built a number of years ago as a waste-baling facility but was never used and has been vacant since.

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It was deployed to provide shelter and services for Ukrainians on a short-term basis, of between one and three nights, before they move on to longer-term accommodation.

Councillors also voted in favour of a motion to further progress the development of a swimming pool and a library at the nearby Samuel Beckett Civic Campus Centre,

Labour Cllr Peter O'Brien said the proposed facility would complement the intended recreational facilities at the Samuel Beckett Civic Centre and lead to the creation of "an area of sporting excellence for the county".

Green Party Cllr Oisín O’Connor said the area needs more recreation spaces but that the facility will be required as a rest facility “for many years”. He questioned whether the council’s focus should instead be on the Samuel Beckett Centre.

Council business

In a separate motion councillors rejected proposals which would record whether they attend council business in person or remotely.

During the Covid-19 pandemic the records of council meetings stated if councillors attended meetings in person or via video-link. On Monday night, councillors rejected by a large margin a proposal which would see this practice retained.

The vote means there will be no distinction in the council minutes as to whether a councillor was physically present or tuning in remotely. Labour Cllr Denis O Callaghan spoke in favour of distinguishing in the records between councillors who attend in person or remotely.

“We’re talking about public transparency,” he said. “Statutory bodies should be as open and transparent as possible.”

He said the council had previously agreed attendance types should be noted and that for some reason that is now being changed.

Green Party Cllr Eva Dowling said no distinction should be drawn and that meetings "shouldn't be two-tiered".

She recalled previous late night meetings which she was able to attend while breast-feeding a baby because they allowed for remote attendance. “I wouldn’t like there to be an asterisk beside my name to diminish my participation. Maybe in that case there should be another asterisk to say I was breastfeeding a newborn.”

Twenty councillors voted to remove the distinction between online and physical attendance and twelve voted for it to be retained. There were five abstentions.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times