Portlaoise councillors back Panthers basketball campaign for sports arena

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Portlaoise councillors back Panthers basketball campaign for facilties

Portlaoise councillors back Panthers basketball campaign for facilties

Portlaoise councillors are backing a campaign by the town's basketball club to build a sports centre for the town.

The basketball club has some 400 members and has won national titles, yet they have to tour Laois and even Kildare, to rent other courts to train and play games. They have begun an online petition to the community to join in their call for a new sports facility to cater for Portlaoise. See it here. 

At the January meeting of Portlaoise Municipal District, Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley tabled a motion asking the MD to work towards providing an indoor sports centre on Tyrells Land.

The 26 acre piece of land on the Stradbally road was bought in 2019 by Laois County Council for €1.4million with a masterplan being drawn up that will including housing, small shops, parkland and sport facilities for the nearby schools and the town.

The written reply came from Donal Brennan, Director of Services.

“There has been a call for submissions in relation to the Masterplan for that particular site. The responses are being correlated and reviewed by the Consultants preparing the Masterplan. These responses will be used to inform the development of the Masterplan. This Masterplan will in turn be brought before the members for consideration," he said.

Cllr Dwane Stanley said that many people in the community have requested a sports centre for Laois, not just Portlaoise.

"Portlaoise being the largest town, a facility is badly needed. Panthers are lobbying us all for some time, looking for somewhere to build a proper facility. They have outgrown St Mary's Hall, and use other courts in Mountmellick and even Kilcullen in Kildare, paying €45,000 annually for rents. 

"This is a great opportunity now with the council asking for submission on Tyrrell's Land. But it doesn't have to be on Tyrrell's, there's other sites. We are talking about a centre for badminton and other sports organisations.  We've a growing community and a huge population. 

She and the other councillors had an online meeting with Panther's club, and said they were all "a bit disappointed" to be told by Mr Brennan that it could take "up to 10 years".

"I don't believe for one minute it could or should take 10 years. I'm asking for support from my fellow councillors," she said.

Cllr Dwane Stanley has asked for a group meeting with Laois County Council CEO John Mulholland by Zoom next month.

"Panthers are getting huge support. We have to be the drivers on this, not passengers on the bus," she said.

Cllr Thomasina Connell is Cathaoirleach of Portlaoise MD.

"I felt the meeting with the Panthers was very helpful, it is an important conversation we have opened. The masterplan is still open for submissions, plans haven't been finalised. Obviously 10 years is unacceptable. In the short term I would like to see the consultant's report on Tyrrell's Land. There's lots of other sites in Portlaoise such as Centrepoint," she said.

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald had seconded the motion.

"Tyrrell's is part zoned for amenity and recreation, I can't think of a better use for the town than a sports amenity. Panthers are looking for a home. The have had huge success right back to the 60's, a huge tradition. We have welcomed the plan for a walkway and this would be available to the schools during the day, it's a no brainer. We brought the leisure centre, the arts centre, this is next," she said.

Cllr Noel Tuohy and Cllr John Joe Fennelly also support the motion.