Swimming pools to close unless funding is found

Three council-run swimming pools in Dublin are to close in August unless extra money is found to run them.

Councillors at the monthly meeting of Dublin City Council on April 12 unanimously passed a motion supporting standalone swimming pools in the city until these were replaced by regional sports and leisure centres.

But city officials warned funding is only available up to August for the Coolock, Sean McDermott Street, and Crumlin swimming pools. Adding that user groups which have been approached to date were not in a position to “creditably” operate or fund the pools.

The motion also stated that the council should actively seek financial and grant aid from all funding agencies for assistance in the running and maintenance of the current pools

“It is particular important that we as a city are not made fools of and laughed at by closing three pools when this year we are supposed to be capital city of sport in Europe,” said Cllr Eric Byrne (Labour).

Cllr Larry O’Toole (Sinn Fein) reminded councillors, “As a council, we were the ones who did not find the money when setting the budget.”

At the time of the budget, €600,000 was set aside to run the pools for a six month period. City manager John Tierney said this funding was stretched out to last a further two months.

Councillors suggested a range of possible sources of funding, from the Minister of Sport and Lotto funding and community funds run by Dublin Bus and the GAA.

“The last thing we want to do is close swimming pools,” said Mr Tierney, pointing out that it had being a difficult budget and the compromise was to keep the pools open for six months, which is to be exceeded. He warned that the Government may ask local authorities to cut funding again in the coming year.

Mr Tierney said it would be “very difficult” to find funding.

He denied that the pools were being closed because they would not make profit, saying the council never expected to profit from this type of service.

Cllr Nial Ring (Ind) said he could not accept the figures of needed funding; saying a much lower amount of money was needed to run the pools. Although the city manager denied this, saying the councillor’s figures are wrong.

It was suggested by Cllr Bill Tormey (Fine Gael) that the “template” of the Garda Reserve could be used to good effect in running the pools. “Voluntarism in relation to security, voluntarism in relation to supervision.”

Cllr Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (Labour) said, “Not only will major plans for these areas go to the wall, now these swimming pools will too.”

Up to a hundred people protested outside City Hall on Dame Street, organisers of the protest said. The protesters were from community groups from the north inner city, Crumlin, and Coolock.

The groups, under the banner of Save Our Swimming Pools, claim the pools in the city have been deliberately neglected over the last decade, and maintenance was not carried out. Instead, promises were made that the standalone pools would be replaced by leisure centres as part of now-troubled public-private partnership deals.

IMAGE: Photograph by sundancekid, some rights reserved.

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