Families protest children’s play area land ‘grab’ by council

‘Builders are coming in over the bit of green we have left. It’s not safe to let the children out’

 

Families in one of the most deprived areas of the State say their local authority has “grabbed” a third of their children’s play area, and handed it to a developer.

About 100 parents, children and child-care workers protested at the green area, adjacent to a youth service in Dolphin’s Barn, Dublin, on Thursday.

They said the children have lost a large portion of amenity land, without consultation while construction works, which started last week, renders the remaining green “unsafe” to play on.

The Dolphin House homework club and the Rialto Youth Service, accommodated in prefabs at the entrance to the Dublin City Council-owned Dolphin House flats complex, is attended by more than 110 children.

One of the largest local authority estates in the State, Dolphin House, is undergoing regeneration part of which is the development of a new primary care centre.

Though parents and staff said they had some indication last summer that a portion of the green may be needed for the primary-care facility, nothing was confirmed.

Home-work club team leader Danielle McKenna said: “We wrote to the council opposing the loss of this land and heard nothing back. We asked to be consulted. We referred to children’s right to play, to space, to grow and develop into the adults they want to be.”

Fencing, portioning off about one third of the green, was erected without warning last week, she said. Track marks across the remaining grass, to the site, were visible on Thursday.

“The builders are coming in over the bit of green we have left. It’s not safe to let the children out. Since the building started there’s noise and disruption while the children are doing their homework.

“The Council, the Government say they are serious about tackling disadvantage. We are trying hard to do that here but it just feels they are the big people and we are the little people. There isn’t support. It’s just battle all the time.”

Pobal, the independent state agency, classifies the area as “very disadvantaged”.

Just 0.81 per cent of adult residents have a third-level education, with 37 per cent a primary education only.

Parents, including Pamela Byrne, said the club was “very important” to their children.

“They’re doing great here, with the supports and all the activities. We were just in shock when we came and saw this fence up. It’s wrong.”

A spokeswoman confirmed “a piece of land [WAS]made available by the City Council to facilitate the works to provide the Primary Health Care Centre”.

She said the developer had “consulted with the local community groups in relation to the use and access to the land”.