Dáil Éireann - Volume 458 - 28 November, 1995
Adjournment Debate. - Cork Regional Sports Centre.
Mr. D. Wallace Mr. D. Wallace
Mr. D. Wallace: I support the siting of a swimming pool in Bishopstown as this will benefit not only the students attending the regional technical college but the residents of the greater Bishopstown area. However, residents have been concerned about the chaotic congestion of traffic using the present entrance to the college. People have made representations to me about the ongoing daily congestion. Anyone who is familiar with the situation, as is the Minister of State, will be aware that every effort must be made to alleviate the problems as quickly as possible.
I speak on behalf of the Rossbrook resident's association. Rossbrook is a new estate where many families have young children and the vehicles going to and from the swimming pool use a private road in this estate to reach the entrance to the site. The residents are genuinely concerned for the very young children living in the estate because of the dangers from traffic. They are not trying to stop the development. In an article in last Friday's Evening Echo the Minister of State, Deputy Allen, accused me and Deputy Batt O'Keeffe of inciting opposition to the development at the college. I want the Minister of State to withdraw that disgraceful remark as I have always acted responsibly and constructively in Opposition.
The college authorities also have been concerned for some considerable time and have had discussions with the Department of Education. It is agreed in principle that a second entrance is urgently needed. Cork Corporation has indicated — of this I have written confirmation — that no further planning permission will be granted in this area until an alternative entrance is provided  by the Department of Education or the college authorities.
We are pursuing this matter on behalf of constituents who are the constituents also of the Minister of State. I can tell him that they are very disappointed at the way he has twisted things to suggest that they are obstructing development. They know that they and their children will benefit from the swimming pool but they have genuine concerns which the Minister could address if he was committed.
I ask the Minister to ensure that the necessary funds will be provided. If this cannot be achieved in the short-term will he give a commitment to the people that an entrance will be provided within a certain time frame, be it one, two or three years? If they have such a commitment I have no doubt they will co-operate fully. I ask the Minister to withdraw the scurrilous statement in the Evening Echo suggesting that Deputy Batt O'Keeffe and I deliberately incited opposition to this development. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Minister of State at the Department of Education (Mr. Allen) Minister of State at the Department of Education (Mr. Allen)
Minister of State at the Department of Education (Mr. Allen): I am delighted to have the opportunity to clarify the factual situation of the Cork Regional Sports Centre. The swimming pool is not only for the students but is designed for the people of Bishopstown, Ballincollig and all the areas around it. The people were promised this pool, especially at election time, but nobody delivered on the promises.
I was delighted to announce on 29 September 1995 that a grant of £2.5 million had been provided for the development of Cork Regional Sports Centre at Bishopstown under my Department's major sports capital programme. The centre will consist of a 25-metre swimming pool, a 12-metre learner pool, spectator accommodation, an aerobics area, a fitness suite, a cafeteria and ancillary facilities. The centre will serve Cork city and the adjoining county areas.
The eight-acre site for the proposed  centre adjoins Cork regional technical college and is owned by Cork Corporation. Access to the site is through the Rossbrook housing estate. The residents on the estate have objected to this on the grounds that it would pose a danger to their children. Cork Corporation identified the site for the centre as long ago as 1986. The Rossbrook estate has been built since then and the proposals for the site would have appeared on plans for the area when the houses on the estate were purchased. I understand that the residents of the estate are planning to seek an injunction against using the road through their estate as access to the site.
The cost of alternative site access at present is prohibitive. In the medium term the intention is to provide a new access road which will also serve an expanded regional technical college. This is planned to take place in the next three to five years. The estimated cost of a new access road is £1 million, which will include the purchase of privately held land for the road. I am informed that Cork Corporation has advised the Rossbrook residents that it will use its planning powers, whenever Cork regional technical college submits an application for planning permission for the redevelopment of its campus, to ensure that a new roundabout and entrance will be provided on the eastern side of the college. This new entrance will be the permanent access to the sports centre.
Construction work on this project began just two weeks ago. Cork city, and particularly Bishopstown, have waited for this facility for the past ten years. I would appeal to the residents of the Rossbrook estate to facilitate this development so that the centre will be available for the use of the people of Cork in the shortest possible time.
Since I became Minister of State with responsibility for sport and youth affairs I have used every possible means to convince the Rossbrook residents of my serious commitment to the provision of an alternative access route to the pool as quickly as possible. My Department  commissioned a plan for the redevelopment and expansion of the college which gave top priority to the proposed new road infrastructure and a new access road was clearly identified. The Cork city manager has given an undertaking that no further expansion will take place at the college until such time as a new road is in place and that is a fairly genuine guarantee. I have given guarantees at numerous meetings with some of the residents of the Rossbrook estate. The Bishopstown Community Association fully supports this project.
Last Friday night I responded to press reports of requests to cough up another £600,000. I find that hard to take, especially coming from Deputy Dan Wallace and Deputy Batt O'Keeffe who are looking for a further £1 million in addition to the £2.5 million that has been given. The swimming pool was promised for years and both Deputy Dan Wallace and Deputy Batt O'Keeffe were in Government until last November but could not deliver this pool to the people. I have secured £2.5 million, but they are now asking for another £1 million immediately in order to allow the pool to go ahead. I ask the people of Rossbrook to trust me and to trust the words of the Cork city manager when we say that an alternative road will be built to the pool as quickly as possible. I was asked to set a deadline but I was honest and I said it would be a minimum of three years. I am trying to be honest and open and I have spent nine months trying to convice people to allow this project to go ahead. I am appealing to people tonight to show faith and they will not be let down in the long-term.
Dáil Éireann 458 Adjournment Debate. Cork Regional Sports Centre.