Our Swimming Pools
Council officials are attempting to close down three public swimming
pools that serve large working class areas, Sean Mac Dermott Street,
Coolock and Crumlin. Officials are claiming that these pools are
un-economical to operate, and they are also using their age, and
“poor state of repair” as further justification. These
pools were deliberately run down by the City
Council. For over a decade no work has been done to upgrade or
improve the pools, or even maintain them satisfactorily. No attempt
has been made to promote their use or encourage new residents
to use the facilities. In each of these areas the community were
promised full leisure centres that would incorporate pools within
a broad range of amenities. These leisure centres were to be delivered
as part of the Public Private Partnership policy that was adopted
by the City Council.
has been a proven disaster – either falling apart when the
developers decided that the profits were no longer attractive
enough or the private developers getting what they wanted while
the community gain aspect has been abandoned. Having failed to
deliver the promised leisure centres in these communities, the
City Council is now intent on taking away one of the few facilities
these areas actually have. Working Class people are once again
being made to pay for the mistakes of others.
City Councils actions are unacceptable, and a strong community response
has delayed the planned closures by eight months so far. Intensification
of this campaign, united across the three affected areas can save
these pools, which are essential local amenities.
Dublin City Council officials made the decision
to close the pools in November last year, and tried to carry out
the closures in a completely underhand way. Despite the fact that
such closures are a “reserved” function (i.e. must be
voted on and approved by the elected city councillors) unelected
officials acted as if their proposal was already accepted. User
groups of the three pools were led to believe that the closure was
a certainty- they were refused further bookings, were told that
the facilities would not re-open after the Christmas break and “alternatives”
were suggested. For many of the user groups, including schools and
youth clubs, the “alternatives” were not viable, for
safety, financial or accessibility reasons. Loss of the local facilities
would mean that the children in these groups would be deprived of
their opportunity to swim.
A very angry and determined reaction from the user
groups, individual swimmers and the broader community led to the
formation of the “Save Our Swimming Pool” campaign.
As a result of this campaign, the proposed closure in December had
to be abandoned. Pressure on City councillors by their constituents
meant that many had to give a commitment to their constituents not
to pass the city council estimates (the budget for 2010) if funding
was not made available for the pools. To avoid a crisis and to ensure
the budget was approved, finances were allocated that would keep
the 3 pools open for a six month period only. While the majority
party on the City Council, Labour, were eager to claim this was
a victory they delivered, this “stay of execution” was
not good enough for the campaign. The deal between the Labour party
and the City manager allowed the politicians to claim victory, while
the manager got the budget passed, and the closure of the pools
still on the agenda ( with only a slight delay). The City Manager
can now claim that these Councillors, in approving funding for a
limited period only, have accepted that the closure will take place
once this runs out. The Labour and Fine Gael Councillors who accepted
this dodgy deal, rather than seizing the available opportunity to
insist the pools were properly funded, have actually created a greater
obstacle for the community led campaign.
This funding was due to run out in June. However,
once campaigners highlighted the fact that closure would take place
just as the school holidays began, and when summer projects would
need the pools, the closure was put back to August. Despite the
spin the City Council may put on this, the fact is that money was
found to avoid a PR disaster. As we have insisted all along, finances
can be made available to continue operating the pools, but there
is a determination to close them regardless of the consequences.
At the April city council meeting, a motion proposed
by Independent community councillor Cieran Perry was passed unanimously.
Read motion here. This motion
commits City Council to a policy of keeping these pools open until
such a time as they are replaced by better facilities. The manager
is also directed to seek all available funding to achieve this.
Despite the unanimous support for this change of policy, City Council
management are still determined push ahead with these closures.
At a meeting with community and user groups of Sean Mac Dermott
street pool, it was very clear from the official present that no
effort had been made to acknowledge the new policy and it was not
being acted upon.
The City Council are happy to wait until August
and allow these essential local facilities to close. The
campaign by the three affected communitys must be intensified
to stop this. All the City Councillors, particularly
those who voted for the shortfall deal, must be kept under
pressure and held accountable. It must be made clear that
they cannot avoid their responsibilities. A strong message
needs to go to the Manager that he must act as directed by
the April motion and alternative funding must be sought.
The government parties must also be targeted - local authorities
have been starved of funding. Sources of funding that could
contribute to the continued operation of the pools does exist
– however , much of this is no longer transparent and
is hoarded by Ministers to buy votes in their constituencies.
protest at City Hall in April ensured that the issue got massive
media attention. The coverage made it very clear that nation
wide public opinion is on our side. We must build on this,
local support must be turned into action, and the pressure
must be increased until the political parties and City Council
management stop trying to make us pay for the mistakes they
Latest Campaign News Click here!
Motion to April's City Council Meeting
65 + 66 to Central Area Committee, March 2010
131 to Dublin City Council, February 2010