HC Deb 05 June 1894 vol 25 cc422-4

On behalf of the hon. Member for North Louth, I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether permission has now been given to the Polo Club, who have already railed in some acres of the Phoenix Park, to erect a stand house on the ground; whether his attention has been called to the successive stages by which permanent encroachments and erections have been made in the park; is he aware that when the Polo Club first got permission to use a special part of the park, the ground was marked out for them merely by a whitewash boundary; that after a time they were permitted to erect a wooden railing, on the plea that this was necessary for the protection of spectators; that subsequently a second railing was erected on the other side, and the entire ground thus enclosed except at the ends; that then a small wooden shed was constructed at the western extremity; that last winter this shed was transfered to a more commanding position, and enclosed by a strong iron railing; that seats were put on top of it to form a stand house, but that admission thereto is denied to any persons except members of the club and their friends; will the Government inquire whether on Saturday last a person practising the game rode outside and deliberately drove the ball into the midst of a group of ladies, and rode off without offering any apology; and will any steps be taken to secure the free and uninterrupted use of the park for ordinary citizens not requiring special privileges from the Crown towards their enjoyment?


I am informed that the Polo Club has not been allowed to rail in the ground on which the game is played; but, for the protection of the public, barriers have been erected on two sides, the ends being perfectly open. The club has been allowed to re-erect the wooden pavilion for dressing rooms; the site has been changed in order to allow free passage for carriages and other traffic round the ground; the railing round the pavilion is the same as was round the old shed, but a little longer; the new feature is a platform accommodating about a dozen persons. With the exception of the demesnes attached to the official residences, which have never been opened to the public, and the ground occupied by certain public institutions, the Zoological Gardens, and the necessary lodges, nurseries, &c, for the service of the Park, there are no permanent enclosures in the Park. The cricket grounds which have been assigned with the consent of successive Governments to certain clubs are all held on licence, and cannot be described as permanent encroachments. Inquiry has been made, but no information is forthcoming about the incident alluded to in the fourth paragraph, nor has the Board of Works received any complaint. I appreciate the desire of my hon. Friend to secure the Park for the general use and enjoyment of the citizens, but I do not think that the existing privileges, which have been granted and confirmed by successive Governments for so many years, constitute any serious interference with such general use and enjoyment.


Is it not the case that the game of polo is enjoyed by a large number of citizens?


I believe it is very popular in Dublin.

MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)

Are the licences held from year to year, or only for a fixed term, or is the arrangement an indefinite one?


The Board of Works can terminate the licence if they think fit.


Is the privilege allowed to other Societies as well as the one named in the question?


To four others. I stated so.