Proposal for Ratoath park rejected by HSE

By Eoin Ryan

The HSE have rejected a call for 1.023 hectare of HSE-owned land in Ratoath due to a decision by An Bord Pleanála in 2015. The site at the time was being used by the community as an informal open space.

A spokesperson from the HSE said they rejected the proposal because “In the context of increased demands arising from the Enhanced Community Care Programme which is part of the reform of our health services, this will see a shift of care out of acute hospitals into the community and into the person’s home.”

They also stated no decisions expected until Q3/Q4 2022, meaning no proposals will be accepted by the HSE until August.

Ratoath is home to 10,000 residents according to the 2016 Census with only one park constructed by developers as their source of public greenspace.

Local representative Eilish Balfe says the park would benefit Ratoath as local recreation is “all behind closed gates and fee paying.” Balfe adds that the only park a walking distance away is constantly vandalised and she is better off travelling to Ashbourne’s community park instead.

The site has seen no improvements for the past 20 years with the site being used as a dumping ground by some residents. A petition by over 500 local residents was sent to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman and the HSE. Stephen Donnelly and Roderic O’Gorman have not made a public response.

“The site is derelict, and if it was anyone else they’d be fined for it”

“The site is not only an eyesore but a health hazard with broken fencing and discarded rubbish that has resulted in rats and other vermin on the site,” Balfe says

She also points out that it is the “first thing people see” when commuting from Ashbourne or Dublin.

“The site is derelict, and if it was anyone else they’d be fined for it”

The site was purchased in 2001 by the HSE for a new Primary Care Centre which is still awaiting planning and funds.

Sinn Fein TD Darren O’Rourke says “This is most disappointing for the community. The site is vacant and unused. It is a terrible pity to see it go to waste, particularly when you consider the shortage of public and community amenities in the area.”

O’Rourke also says Provisions could be made to ensure the site was made available to the community on a temporary basis, until the HSE submit their plans.

Taunya Grogan and Eilish Balfe set up a Facebook page ‘Ratoath needs a Play Space’ for those wanting this play space and other public play spaces.
Ashbourne residents were in a similar situation recently as land next to Killegland cemetery was sold by the church to a housing agency that was meant for a public park. Councillors and residents successfully got their park planning added to the Meath County Development Plan 2021 to 2027.

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