North Fingal Pool Campaign, Annual General Meeting (Report)
In Attendance: Alistar Smith, Niall Keady, David Flynn, Laly Calderon, Aine O’ Beirne, John Oghenetano and Mark Pearson (Chair)
Fingal County Council have commited to conduct a study into the feasibility of a pool in North Fingal in the Fingal Development plan. As a result of the Our Balbriggan public engagement and the thousands of responses the Draft Castlelands Plan calling for a public swimming pool, a campaign led by NFPC and Balbriggan News the council have committed to delivering a Swimming pool for Balbriggan and highlighted the new Castlelands site as a possible location for a swimming pool, pending a feasibility study.
Guests: Brendan Ryan TD, Cllr Joe O’ Brien and Cllr Seána Ó Ródaigh
Apologies: Lorraine Clifford Lee Senator, James Reilly Senator, Alan Farrell TD, Darragh O'Brien TD, Louise O' Reilly TD, Cllr Grainne Maguire, Cllr Tony Murphy, Cllr Tom O'Leary, Malachy Quinn Sinn Fein representative
The meeting started with a welcome to our guests and Niall Keady presenting a brief agenda:
· Activities of the Campaign since March 2018, and discussion on this topic
· Nominations and date of election for members of the committee.
Niall Keady gave an introduction into the campaign, which started as a Facebook page and petition. This was set up by local Balbriggan man, Anthony O’Flaherty. A Public meeting was held in March 2018, and the committee was set up following this event. The campaign has been involved in campaigning for submissions to the Our Balbriggan project. We have recently set up a bank account and have received our first grant of €500, which has gone towards printing costs and also, the setting up of a website. www.swimfingal.ie
Brendan Ryan said that there was a commitment from the council to conduct a study into the feasibility of a pool in North Fingal in the Fingal Development plan. As a result of the Our Balbriggan plan and the World Cafe meetings, the council have highlighted the new Castlelands site as a possible location for a swimming pool, pending a feasibility study.
David Flynn spoke on behalf of the committee to point out that the campaign did not want to be limited to Castlelands as a potential site, as this would could possibly weaken calls for a swimming pool in North Fingal if Castlelands as a location were to be ruled out at some future date. This would weaken the campaign. David assured the meeting that the committee was very much in favour of a swimming pool in the North Fingal area, and that this would include in Skerries, for example.
Brendan Ryan asked David if the committee had had any contact with representatives of a former Skerries Campaign who had been involved in a campaign for a pool in the Skerries area.
David replied that The Skerries Campaign had done a lot of work on the Skerries plan for a pool at the Ballas pit. While David has had some contact with them and seen some of the Skerries plans, he has not spoken to them about getting involved in the current campaign.
Joe O’Brien urged the committee to push for the feasibility study, which should be underway, and that the result of such would put us in a better position. Joe also suggested contacting business companies such as Aurora to see how much they would be interested, as the council were more likely to be in favour of a public-private model.
Niall Keady spoke of Balbriggan having great potential as a tourist spot and that additional options should be put forward. We should not simply accept that the Castlelands Plan will proceed and be satisfied that a pool is part of that project. We need alternative suggestions, locations and plans should the Castlelands plan not proceed. Alternatives and additional plans should be linked with calls for a swimming pool which could include a waterpark tourist attraction. While this committee’s priority is a public swimming pool. We should widen the scope to include alternatives. Niall Keady went on to put forward the concept of a major tourist attraction in the form of a Waterpark, located for example at the new Bremore Park or North of it. A project like the National Aquatic Centre where a leisure waterpark sits beside a professional pool. In the same way a water park could also encompass a separate “public pool” where resources are shared and revenue from a successful profitable waterpark tourist attraction would subsidise the expense of providing a public pool to the local community. The tourist element would bea massive boost to the Town of Balbriggan and create employment and much needed footfall into the commercial district from tourists and people traveling out from the city.
David agreed that it was unlikely that a swimming pool would make a profit, but that there is a bigger picture. Involving the youth in sport is a fantastic was to reduce anti-social behaviour and to promote social inclusion. Ultimately, prison is very expensive and we should be pushing for social inclusion in order to reduce crime and the consequences of such. Also, David has seen from his own families experience that the children who learn to swim in the Balbriggan area have done so because their parents were able to pay for lessons and transport in order to learn swimming outside of Balbriggan. Many school-children are not currently getting this opportunity.
Meanwhile, the campaign would await the results of a feasibility study and would push for a swimming pool for North Fingal.
Aine O’ Beirne pointed out that while there were many swimming pools in the Drogheda and Swords area, any travel to such places could outweigh the advantages due to cost/expenses and the time lost.
Brendan Ryan suggested that the next thing the campaign should do is to contact and/or request a meeting with the head of Community Development in Fingal Council.
Niall Keady pointed out that we also intend to keep the public informed through the website and that as a small committee, we had made progress and changed the minds of some people.
At this stage the public representatives left and the meeting continued in order to elect a new committee for 2019-2020:
Secretary: Alistar Smith
Vice-Secretary: Aine O’ Beirne,
Treasurer: Garrett Mullan
Vice-Treasurer: John Oghenetano
Chair: Mark Pearson
Vice-Chair: David Flynn
Communications & PRO : Niall Keady
Fund-Raising officer: Laly Calderon