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In Pictures: Crowds gather at County Hall for protest over closure of Portlaoise Leisure Centre

A crowd of around 300 people gathered outside Laois County Council buildings for a protest this morning over the closure of Portlaoise Leisure Centre.

The march, organised by Leisure Centre manager Ben Smith, saw the protesters gather outside the now closed facility and then walk towards Laois County Council.

Once there, Mr Smith presented Laois County Council Chief Executive John Mulholland with a petition containing 5,000 signatures of people who wish to see the centre reopen.

Mr Mulholland made no comment to the media but agreed to meet Mr Smith to discuss the future of Portlaoise Leisure Centre with him.

Portlaoise Leisure Centre workers and people who use it were present at the protest along with Laois TDs Sean Fleming and Brian Stanley and local Councillors Caroline Dwane Stanley, Catherine Fitzgerald, Tom Mulhall, Willie Aird and Noel Tuohy.

While Triolgy Triathlon Club, Laois Marlins, Portlaoise Panthers, Laois Water Safety and Laois Down Syndrome were also represented.

The protest also heard speeches from manager Ben Smith and employees Samantha Kirwan and Tom Cooney.

Sharon Roche spoke on behalf of Trilogy Triathlon Club while senior swimmer and coach Sean Donoghue talked about the importance of the facilities for all in Laois Marlins.

Centre manager Ben Smith closed the protest and revealed that there may be a second protest organised next Monday at the full sitting of Laois County Council which is set to be in the Dunamaise Arts Centre.

Steven Miller was at the protest and you can watch a video of all the speeches below.

While we also have a selection of pictures too:

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