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Ballymun Kickhams GAA club should be relocated to a more suitable spot in central Ballymun, according to a motion supported by members of Dublin City Council’s North West Area Committee at their meeting on Tuesday 21 June.
Independent Councillor Noeleen Reilly tabled the motion, which said that the committee “expresses concern at the continued delay in bringing Ballymun Kickhams closer to Ballymun”. Looking for a new site for the club was included in the local area plan in 2016.
“Meetings and feasibility studies have been taking place with the club and DCC now for several years with very little movement,” said Reilly in her motion, which was supported by the other councillors at the meeting.
The club’s home at the moment is near Dublin Airport on the Old Airport Road, so getting there from Ballymun involves crossing the M50. It is too dangerous for children to walk there and there is no direct bus, said Reilly.
Boys and girls are missing out on playing football as a result, she said. “Parents are very anxious to get their children involved but safety comes first,” said Reilly at the meeting. “It’s such a priority to bring them closer to Ballymun.”
Cathal Roche, public relations officer for Ballymun Kickhams, said by phone on Monday that the club has a “fabulous facility”, but unfortunately it is too far out for children to access it easily.
They run “nurseries” in local primary schools, he says. “We capture the hearts and minds of the kids and their families in our nurseries.”
They run their junior training sessions in Dublin City Council pitches in Ballymun, and when kids get older they start to play at Pairc Ciceam in the Old Airport Road.
It would help the club immensely if it was fully integrated into Ballymun, says Roche. He feels certain that even more children would get involved. “It has been a barrier to us,” he says.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Keith Connolly said local children are missing out by not being involved with a club that has so many star players.
“There are so many positive role models that mightn’t always be around, obviously we have a Dublin captain,” he said. There are seven or eight other players from Ballymun Kickhams on the Dublin panel too, he said.
The council’s Ballymun area manager, Jackie O’Reilly, said the council is willing to engage with the club, but that it hasn’t yet responded to a recent feasibility study.
The club has been in negotiations with Dublin City Council for around 10 years, says Roche by phone. “Sometimes you get positive feedback and it’s all very positive and then the next time it’s not so positive and the goal posts have moved.”
“Some of our volunteers have put extensive work in to try and achieve our goal of moving back into the heart of the community, but it just hasn’t happened,” says Roche.
Several sites have been mentioned but nothing has ever come to fruition. “It is frustrating,” he says.
Seeking More Arts in the North West
Councillors at the North West Area Committee meeting also called for more investment in the arts in Finglas and Ballymun and said that they would like to see arts events similar to those being rolled out as part of the Creative Places programme taking place in Darndale.
“I think we should replicate what has gone on in the North Central Area as best we can,” said Sinn Féin Councillor Anthony Connaghan.
He asked the city arts officer, Ray Yeates what councillors can do to get a similar programme for Finglas.
While Ballymun has the Axis centre, local councillors also said they would like to start planning to provide a dedicated arts venue for Finglas too in the future.
“With the problems that we have in some parts of the community … I think the arts is really, really important,” said Social Democrats Councillor Mary Callaghan.
Callaghan would like to see more options available for children and young people in the Finglas area, including drama, sculpture, photography and music, she said.
She asked if the council could replicate the investment it is putting into the North Central Area. “I would ask that you commit the resources as you have to the other area.”
The Arts Council invested €450,000 into Darndale under its Creative Places programme, said the city arts officer, Ray Yeates.
Creative Places is a funding stream specifically designed for areas that don’t normally apply for arts funding, Yeates said.
Applying for that scheme could be an option for the North West Area in the future too, he said.
Yeates said that a while back the arts office noticed that very few applications for funding were coming from the North Central Area.
When they looked into it they found that there were lots of artists living in the area, but those that did apply for funding intended to do the artwork in the city centre, he said.
Residents were very interested in having more arts events in their locality, too, said Yeates at the meeting of the North West Area Committee on 21 June.
“Capital cities of course will focus all of their arts infrastructure in the city centre,” said Yeates. But he is keen to help expand access to live performances and arts events into other local areas.
Green Party Councillor Caroline Conroy, who more recently became Dublin’s lord mayor, said the council could use libraries, churches and empty buildings for arts events. “The church was a prime example there where we had the opera the other night.”
The Ballymun area manager, Jackie O’Reilly, said the arts office has just put out a call for proposals for live performances for the area, which will hopefully take place between August and October, she said.
Keith Connolly, the Fianna Fáil councillor, said that actors from the Axis theatre in Ballymun went into two schools in Finglas recently to do live performances and the feedback from the students was brilliant. “They’ll remember this forever,” he said.