Background to the Tank Field
The Tank Field is the only flat green public space in North East Cork City and has been a communal resource for the community since the first houses were built in this part of Cork in the 1930s. It is called the Tank Field because a large water tank serviced the immediate vicinity in the 1930s. The 2.5 acre Tank Field is part of a larger 11.8 acre site and lies on the boundary between Montenotte and Mayfield.
Cork City Council used its statutory powers in 2001 to acquire the Tank Field at a nominal cost without any prior consultation with the community. Local residents only discovered that their community field had been acquired by the council in November 2006.
The council then proposed to sell part of the overall site for €850,000 to the Department of Education and Science for a new 16-classroom school for Gaelscoil An Ghoirt Álainn, which directly adjoins the Tank Field and has operated from temporary prefabs in the overflow car park of the local Brian Dillon’s GAA club.
The campaign to retain the Tank Field has exposed questionable decision-making processes by the Department of Education and Science, An Bord Pleanála and Cork City Council.
These issues were published in my Irish Times column on October 20, 2009
The key issues concerning the construction of Gaelscoil An Ghoirt Álainn represent wider national concerns regarding public policy priorities and decision making processes in education, planning and local government.
1. The takeover of the Tank Field by the City Council
2. The transfer/leasing of the Tank Field to Brian Dillon’s GAA Club (BDC), a private organisation.
3. The process of allowing the Gaelscoil to establish a presence on the grounds leased to BDC
4. The efforts made at establishing a permanent Gaelscoil
5. Deficiencies in the Department of Education and Science process
6. Deficiencies in the planning process
7. Issues about expenditure of public funds
8. Public policy issues
Detailed clarification, including FOI documentation, on these eight issues can be found here and here.
I am not opposed to the construction of a new building for Gaelscoil An Ghoirt Álainn.
However, I am opposed to the construction of a new building for Gaelscoil An Ghoirt Álainn on the Tank Field, an important, open, flat, public green space used by the local community since the 1930s. I am particularly concerned about:
- the failure to utilise existing under-utilised educational facilities at the Mayfield Community School that had been provided at significant cost to the taxpayer;
- the failure to engage effectively with the Principals of the local schools and the residents;
- the waste of public resources in building a new Gaelscoil on a green open public space when other less costly and more effective solutions exist;
- the incremental segregation of our education system, and,
- the process in which An Bord Pleanála determines what is of “strategic and national importance.”