There have been calls for City Hall to help “mend the hurt” caused by a complex and at times bitter 12-year planning saga over the future of a green in Cork City.
The call came as building work finally started this week on a new school for Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Aláinn on a portion of Tank Field in Mayfield.
The controversy over the future of another portion on the site is set to drag on after a decision by city councillors, who have requested independent legal advice on a disposal order and an associated Part 8 planning application to develop a new GAA pitch at the other end of Tank Field.
Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Aláinn, a multi-denominational co-ed school has, since 1998, been housed in prefabs in the overflow car park of Brian Dillons GAA club, alongside the field.
The Department of Education has been trying for years to build a permanent school building on part of the field.
Some local residents led a high-profile campaign against the loss of public open space, raising questions about legal ownership of the entire site and planning processes involved.
A council-led Part 8 planning process to develop sports pitches for Brian Dillons GAA club at the other end of the Tank Field also sparked local opposition.
While An Bord Pleanála granted planning for the new school in 2011, and the land required was transferred to the department in July 2017, work didn’t start on site until Monday.
There were fears that a motion before the city council that evening, from Fine Gael’s Joe Kavanagh, seeking to halt all work on Tank Field pending legal clarification on land transfer issues could stall the school project again.
As supporters of the school and opponents to development on Tank Field looked on from the public galleries in City Hall, Mr Kavanagh agreed to withdraw that motion.
Councillors agreed to his request for independent legal advice in relation to the disposal of lands on the eastern side of the Tank Field to Brian Dillons GAA club for the development of playing pitches.
A report before councillors said ownership of the entire Tank Field was held in possessory title by the council for over 40 years, and that a CPO in 2013 was to perfect title to certain lands.
The city’s head of corporate affairs, Paul Moynihan, said the current playing pitches proposal is compatible with the zoning provisions of the city development plan and that the council is satisfied there is “no third party” with a legal interest in any part of the Tank Field.
Mr Kavanagh insisted his request for legal advice relates to the validity of the disposal order and the associated Part 8 linked to the parcel of land now earmarked for sports pitches — and not the gaelscoil site.
Fianna Fáil councillor Tim Brosnan said nobody is trying to stop the gaelscoil project, which he pointed out has planning permission.
Green Party representative Oliver Moran, who has a son attending the school and training with Brian Dillons, urged City Hall to “mend the hurt” caused by the entire saga.
“I don’t think those holding ‘Land Grabbers’ and other signs realise the hurt felt among their own neighbours by that message,” he said.
“The community is very divided and that isn’t always represented in media reports. I think there’s a responsibility on Cork City Council now to mend the hurt in the neighbourhood. One way they can do that is by investing in parks and playgrounds here.”