At the Rivermount Boys FC soccer pitches in the Tolka Valley Park in Finglas, Rory Maher, club chairman, opens the doors to a storage room in the clubhouse.
Inside big silver lockers are balls, jerseys, flagpoles and other sports equipment.
There are changing rooms too, with wooden benches lining the block walls. There are showers and toilets with maroon tiles.
The largest space in the sports building is a meeting room with tables and chairs, a small kitchen with a fridge, kettle, microwaves and kitchen sink.
This meeting room used to be part of the club’s facilities, says Maher and was well used by parents whose kids were training or playing, especially at weekends until it was commandeered by Dublin City Council more than two years ago.
The club understood at the time that the council wanted to use the space for parks staff, to allow them extra space for social distancing, he says. “Then we came in one day and the locks had been changed.”
After the restrictions were lifted, the soccer club needed it back, says Maher. “We went looking for it back and we were told no,” he says. Then the council said its staff depot in the park had a leaky roof, he says.
Dublin City Council’s parks department shouldn’t have the right to kick the club out of a sports facility, to turn their meeting room into a staff depot, says Maher. “They shouldn’t be in there,” he says. “It’s meant to be for the community.”
A spokesperson for Dublin City Council says parks staff are using the meeting room in the sports facility temporarily.
“The existing parks depot building in Tolka Valley is substandard with a leaking roof and is due for demolition so a decision was made in the interests of staff welfare to use the building on an interim basis,” says the spokesperson.
Funded for sports
On the outside of the building a light-green sign reads: “this project has received funding from the Sports Capital Programme”.
“We’re a local football club with over a hundred kids from the age of four up,” says Maher.
With each child comes parents. “The parents have nowhere to go in the rain, or to make a cup of tea or sit down while the match is going on,” he says.
The club’s founders are in their 80s, he says. If they come to see a match they should be able to go and sit somewhere comfortable and have a cup of tea.
Before the Covid-19 restrictions the meeting room was well used. “We were using it all the time,” says Maher.
The building is a sports facility for the whole community, he says. A local park run used to use it regularly too, he says.
The council issued the club with a new lease recently, says Maher, which allows it to use the storage facilities, toilets and changing rooms but no longer includes the meeting room.
Maher has asked councillors and a TD to intervene, and some tried to advocate with council managers he says but so far to no avail.
What does “temporary” mean?
The spokesperson for Dublin City Council said the clubhouse was built with sports capital funding.
“The meeting room in the sports pavilion is currently being temporarily used to accommodate parks staff from Monday to Friday during normal working hours,” says the spokesperson.
“This situation is being kept under review and alternative depot solutions are currently being examined,” they said.
The council spokesperson said that the club can use the meeting room at weekends if it emails in advance to arrange that.
Maher says he was previously told if the club needed the room, he could book it two weeks in advance. But Rivermount Boys FC wants to use that room every weekend, he says.
That won’t be possible when council staff are storing personal items as well as equipment on the premises, he says.
“They’ve been there since near the start of Covid,” he says.
He said if they have a leak in the roof of their premises that they have had more than sufficient time to fix it. “It’s time to move on.”