Monkstown Boxing Club in Dublin have pleaded for independent access to their training base after it was closed at short notice, leading to members training outdoors this week.
The club, which has been based at the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council-owned Mounttown Community Facility since it opened in 2008, say they were informed that the building would close for ten days from 3pm Friday 28 October at 1.18pm that day.
No explanation was given for either the closure or the late notice in communicating the decision, which caused huge disruption for a club that runs daily training sessions and had two classes planned for Friday evening alone.
Members of the club trained outside Dún Laoghaire County Hall, the headquarters of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council, last night, and local TDs Richard Boyd Barrett and Cormac Devlin were among those expressing support on social media.
"We had a full week's programme to do this week," club secretary JP Kinsella told RTÉ Sport.
"Top level lads like Jack Marley [European U22 heavyweight champion] and Sean Mari [Sarajevo multi-nations 51kg winner] getting ready for major competitions.
"Community boxercise, which is hugely popular. Kids academy classes. Sixty six boys and girls in the Dublin leagues that’s going on at the moment. We were supposed to have 50 of those kids weighing in the Louth Open this Sunday and everything has been hampered because they have closed the facility with no explanation.
"Last night we had to train outside. We haven’t heard anything from them and we can’t get the club open. It’s a sad situation.
"It’s a complete disregard for our club and the needs of the community. We work very closely with Focus Ireland, the Southside Travellers Action Group, the Probation Service, an outreach programme in Dún Laoghaire.
"Young kids need stability and routine. Families around that area need to know what the kids are going to do in the evening if there’s no boxing. They’re going to get in trouble. It was really important that the club was open this week for the midterm break.
"We are by far the biggest users of the building. We have asked them time after time if we can have our own keys and the answer is always no."
Monkstown Boxing Club had to train outside @dlrcc town hall tonight as our community centre continues to stay closed - such a sad sad situation 🥊😓👎#Community @dlrcommunity @sportireland @IABABOXING pic.twitter.com/TSziraxtSo— JP Kinsella (@paulykinsella) November 2, 2022
Kinsella said this was the fourth time the boxers had been refused access to the centre and that they had repeatedly brought up issues of access and facilities with the centre's board of management and the council.
He said that despite being based in the community centre since it opened in 2008, members are changing in the hallway as repeated requests for changing facilities have been turned down. No showers have been available for five years.
He said that other groups using the facility had previously been given their own keys, but that the boxing club was currently only allowed in when a staff member was there to open it for them.
In response to a query from RTÉ Sport, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council declined to explain the closure other than to state: "Last Thursday, the Board of Management of the Mounttown Community Facility made a decision to close the facility from Friday 28 October at 3pm and to re-open on Monday 7 November at 8.30am.
"Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council will not be providing further comment at this time."
Kinsella said the club had been liaising with the council this week to try to get the facility reopened, but that they had been informed that the facility’s board of management had ultimate authority and were unavailable.
The club has been given a Sports Capital Programme grant of €150,000 to build their own facility on the grounds of the centre, but this is not expected to open until summer 2024.
"Even if we do move out, the problem will still be there for other groups to deal with," said Kinsella.