The temporary use of the former Garda station in Kilfinane by Kilfinane Forest AFC was raised in the Upper House by Limerick Senator James Heffernan.
The problem is, he told the House, that the club has no changing facilities or dressing rooms.
“At the moment players get changed in their cars and that is not ideal in the winter when the weather can be wet and cold,” he said.
“The response the club received from the Department is that consideration has been given to the proposal but it is not considered feasible. The recently reformed soccer club involves a good bunch of young lads like the Minister of State Harris (Simon Harris) and I who want to keep themselves occupied during the winter.
In fairness, they just want a premises to bring them in from the cold and rain. They do not need spectacular showering facilities or top-of-the-range dressing rooms; they just want a warm, dry place during the winter”
Senator Heffernan asked if the Minister of State consider offering the building to a club, such as his local football club, on a temporary basis if the cost to the Department would be the same to maintain it.
In reply, Minister of State Harris said the stated policy for closed Garda stations is to identify if other State bodies, including Departments and the wider public sector, have a use for the property.
“If no State requirement is identified, the OPW will consider disposing of the property on the open market, in order to generate much needed revenue for the Exchequer,” he said.
“At a time when we are trying to reduce the rental bill for the State, the first port of call is to see if the closed Garda station could be used for an existing State need, as outlined. If such is not found, then the option to dispose of the premises on the open market is considered in order to generate revenue.”
The Minister of State said the former Kilfinane Garda Station was assessed in line with the disposal policy he had outlined and no State use was identified.
“In the event that the property does not sell, the OPW could then consider community use. I will ask my officials to provide the Senator with an update on the timeline in terms of attempting to dispose of the property on the open market. I will also try to get an indication of how hopeful we are of a disposal.”
O’Donovan calls for greenway cycle track from West Cork to Donegal
The employment levels that can be generated from tourism and sport have become clear in recent years and the Ballyhoura Mountains in Limerick are the home of one of the finest mountain bike tracks in the world, Limerick Fine Gael Deputy Patrick O’Donovan told the Dáil.
He said he knew the Minister of State Michael Ring was in County Limerick recently in connection with the series of greenways in the county.
“I wonder whether it might be possible to bring the network of greenways into a single consolidated greenway,” he said.
“Something similar was done in the case of the Wild Atlantic way, which was another initiative of the Minister of State. Perhaps the disused railway lines around the West, from West Cork to Donegal, could form a greenway network.”
He said he wished to thank the Minister of State sincerely for the allocations that have been made in County Limerick over the three years since the formation of this Government.
“Almost €3 million has been provided to a variety of codes under the sports capital programme,” he said.
“That is a stimulus. One often hears Opposition spokespersons and people in the media talking about the need for a stimulus. In my part of the world, a small parish of fewer than 1,000 people would benefit from a stimulus like an investment of €30,000, €40,000, €50,000 or €60,000 in the local GAA or soccer club or some other sporting organisation. This kind of Government cash injection is based on fair criteria and can be audited and verified. We would all love to see more money being spent in our local areas. I am glad the Government has given a commitment to reopen the sports capital programme next year.”
Deputy O’Donovan said he hoped this will happen again in 2016 and on an annualised basis. “I think the formula introduced by the Minister, whereby counties get money based on the proportion of the national population in that county, is working. Its fairness is in stark contrast to the cronyism that existed until recently.”