herald

Thursday 29 September 2016

Families celebrate after securing safe play area for their children

Children of the Constitution Hill flats complex protesting for a playground (INM)
Children of the Constitution Hill flats complex protesting for a playground (INM)

Residents of the Constitution Hill flat complex are celebrating after securing new commitments from the council for a safe play area for their children.

Families in the flats protested for a second time this year after they claimed that Dublin City Council (DCC) had broken promises made following the first round of protests.

According to residents the Luas Cross City works taking place in the area have made their homes unsafe as children can access the construction site.

They have also called for the re-instatement of a playground in the flats, after their original play area was closed 10 years ago.

At a meeting on Tuesday night the council committed to having the playground in place in four weeks and the families agreed to suspend their protest - which has blocked construction traffic for almost a week.

The main entrance to the complex, which has been closed to facilitate the construction works will also be re-opened in three weeks.

"It's a positive result, it shows what we can achieve when we come together," resident Gillian Brien said.

"It's a win and it's great for the young people who were protesting with us at half-six every morning to see that people are listening to us."

Gillian's daughter, Leah McCabe (17), joined her neighbours in the protest.

"I've lived here for 14 years and not once have I been able to say that there's a safe play area for me to have," she said.

"Ten years ago they closed what was considered the playground, but it was basically just an enclosed concrete area.

Construction

"Once the construction started up we asked them could they re-open the playground because they demolished a green area across the road from the flats, which was the only play area.

"We physically have nowhere to play, so the children have resorted to playing near the construction site."

A member of the construction team has now been appointed to liaise with the residents over any concerns they have.

Last weekend, a young boy (12) fell down a hole after going into the site to get a football. He was uninjured in the incident.

The children in the flats have now been invited by DCC to select the play equipment that they want to see in their new playground.

Social Democrats councillor Gary Gannon said that the construction work was the "straw that broke the camel's back" for residents of the flats.

"The residents were protesting about a playground, but it's not only about a playground - that's the straw that broke the camel's back," he said.

"It's more about the conditions that the people in Constitution Hill have been living in for the past two decades.

"We can't keep breaking promises to residents in these areas, we need look at how we're treating people living in council-owned homes."

DCC have also promised to appoint a design team for a "deep refurbishment" of the flats.

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