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Residents fear loss of green area over school

September 28, 2012

Residents from the Mayfield and Montenotte area of Cork claimed yesterday their use of a green area — which they have enjoyed for as long as anyone can remember — is about to end with the building of a gaelscoil and other changes.

The case between residents and Cork City Council opened at a special sitting of Cork Circuit Court yesterday. It is expected to continue until Monday. Marie Baker, senior counsel for the residents, said in reference to the council’s plans to dispose of lands for the construction of Gaelscoil An Ghoirt Álainn, and citing case law, she was seeking, “a declaration of the existing right to saunter and wander” at the Tank Field. She had 29 witnesses to call to give evidence of the uses made of the Tank Field over the years.

Her first witness, Brendan Goggin of St Christopher’s Rd, Montenotte, recalled starting school in 1949 and going to school through the field, crossing it back and forth throughout the school day, and playing there in the evenings. “The Tank Field was our centre of activities for hurling, football, soccer, rounders; we had trenches, we built cabins, we had games of chasing, cowboys and Indians and games of cards.

“Nobody in my 68 years has ever put an impediment on me walking in the Tank Field. Obviously, if there was a match or training on you would respect that,” Mr Goggin said. Precise acreage differed between witnesses but, in approximate terms, the new gaelscoil would take up two acres; Brian Dillon’s GAA club’s unfenced pitches, one of which is to be moved, would take up two acres and over six acres would remain.

Ms Baker SC argued that even though the six acres would remain, the changes to the area would effectively end the recreational rights enjoyed by the community, not least in terms of accessing the six acres. Dave Holland SC for Cork City Council outlined details of many access points that residents would have to the six acres of the Tank Field which would not be subject to change. He said that to the extent there would be fences, walls, or railings, there would be numerous gaps to allow access to the green area.

Mr Holland referred to the language of the case law and said residents “will be able to wander and saunter as they may have heretofore done in the remainder of the Tank Field other than the bit going to the gaelscoil. I understand that some residents do not believe that will be so”. Kieran O’Keeffe from St Christopher’s Rd said he had been using the field since 1948. He said: “I am in favour of the gaelscoil but not in my green field.”