€10m ‘ring-fenced’ for Stillorgan pool ‘not available’, says council

Council chief executive had warned harbour costs could hit Shane Ross’s key project

Glenalbyn swimming pool in Stillorgan, Co Dublin, has been closed since 2013. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Glenalbyn swimming pool in Stillorgan, Co Dublin, has been closed since 2013. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

€10 million in “ring-fenced” funding for the refurbishment of Stillorgan pool in south Dublin appears to have been cancelled after the project was reclassified in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council’s list of capital projects.

According to the list of capital projects circulated to councillors this week, the status of the pool refurbishment has been moved from “non-contract” – meaning a contract for the work remained to be signed – to “funding not available”.

The pool was closed in 2013 due to structural problems and its reopening is a key constituency issue for Minister for Sport Shane Ross.

From March 2014, the council has maintained the €10 million necessary to reopen the pool was “ring-fenced” in its capital budget. For the past 18 months negotiations between pool neighbours Kilmacud Crokes GAA Club and the council on access during the refurbishment have been ongoing.

As recently as last August the council confirmed the money remained in place to fund the refurbishment.

Re-examined

But following the transfer of Dún Laoghaire Harbour to the council by Mr Ross last October, along with an estimated €33.5 million in liabilities, council chief executive Philomena Poole warned all capital projects would have to be reexamined.

Speaking after the handover of the harbour in which Mr Ross refused to fund an immediate €10 million harbour repair programme, and referring specifically to the Glenalbyn pool project, Ms Poole said: “I can’t say that the ring-fencing nature of Glenalbyn pool, or any major capital project that is not in contract, would be certain.”

This week the list of capital projects in the pipeline for 2019 was circulated to elected members in advance of a council meeting next Monday night. The list noted the project had been “moved from non-contract” to “funding not available”. The project is among a list of schemes amounting to some €34 million which are classified as “funding not available”.

The change is expected to provoke concern among Stillorgan area councillors at Monday’s meeting. Speaking in advance of the meeting on Wednesday Green Party TD for the area Catherine Martin said the masterplan for the development of Marlay Park also appeared to be in jeopardy “amongst other community projects”.

Ironic

“It’s ironic that Minister Ross, one of the public representatives who was so visible in campaigning for saving Glenalbyn swimming pool, might be the very same person who has signed its death knell,” said Ms Martin.

The council said Ms Poole would not be making any comment until after the councillors had considered the capital programme on Monday night.

Mr Ross told The Irish Times on Wednesday that he believes the project will go ahead. Mr Ross said he had been expecting the council would put a deal to the pool’s neighbours Kilmacud Crokes on arrangements needed for access during the rebuild, as soon as this Thursday. Asked about the money he said he believed the council would make the money available, but declined to elaborate.