Stop the ‘city of concrete’: Dublin GAA want government to sell Nama land to sports clubs

DUBLIN GAA SECRETARY John Costello has called on the government to use Nama land to develop more sporting facilities and prevent the capital from becoming “a city of concrete”.

With greenfield sites becoming more and more scarce, sports clubs are under pressure to develop and provide playing space for a growing number of members.

“Proper planning and provision is vital if Dublin is not to become a place to just work and sleep,” Costello wrote in his annual report which was released on Thursday morning.

The Dubs are hoping to break ground in mid-2019 on their new base at the Spawell Complex, which will provide shared facilities to be used by the capital’s clubs.

But Costello believes that the government should play a much larger role across the country by selling Nama sites to sporting bodies for the purpose of development.

“Nama has largely delivered on its remit for both the Government and the tax payer. Is there a need now to sell off lands in bundles or at unnecessary haste when there could be a potentially major social dividend attached to them?” he wrote.

What is left in the Nama portfolio may not be massively attractive to investors but it could be gold dust to communities. The potential for a social dividend needs to be considered and weighted – it should not be all about money.

He continued: “I would be more than happy to work closely with the Government in terms of developing facilities from property that is controlled by Nama or indeed any other State body. With the GAA’s deep penetration in our communities I feel that there is great scope for the Government to maximise the return to the taxpayer through partnership with sporting organisations who can provide much-needed recreational amenities if land is made available at a reasonable and practical cost.

“The Government and the citizen would enjoy a massive and immediate return on investment – a clear case of value for money with the emphasis on value.”

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Costello also praised the work done by the Na Fianna club to avoid the loss of their playing pitches when construction begins on the proposed Metro Link project.

“This proposed development would have been irreparably damaging to the club generally and to a generation of young Na Fianna members,” he wrote.

With its ability to field teams and run its nursery for its youngest players severely impacted, the continued existence of one of the most vibrant, inclusive and progressive clubs in the country would have been in serious jeopardy.

“While I acknowledge that the development of a Metrolink rail line between Sandyford and Swords will be an essential addition to the city’s transport infrastructure, such
projects should never be at any cost – and certainly should not be at the expense of a club
with 3,000 members that is at the heart of their community.

“Indeed, I studied the route and I could not find anywhere else along the line that would have had a more negative and devastating impact.”

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