Photo: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

The future of Ballymun Shopping Centre was discussed in the Dáil last week, with a TD saying that the lack of facilities in Ballymun is a ‘tragedy’ for the area.

Initially, the redevelopment of the Ballymun Shopping Centre was a key aspect of the 1997 Ballymun Regeneration Plan, with building due to commence in 2005, before being pushed to 2010. However, due to the economic crash, the land ended up in NAMA before development could begin.

The land is now owned by Dublin City Council, and the demolition of the derelict centre began earlier this month, with hopes now the land will be used to create a new shopping centre for Ballymun locals.

The topic was discussed by Dessie Ellis TD (SF) and the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Deputy John Paul Phelan.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Ellis said: “The community in Ballymun deserves better. The derelict site [of the centre] does not reflect the spirit of the closely-knit community of the area. The regeneration project was supposed to be about improving people’s lives and their environment, as well as providing proper housing. It was also about enhancing the quality of life of people and their environs.”

Deputy Ellis discussed that there is nowhere in the local community for people from Ballymun to socialise or shop in, with many being forced to travel to the Omni Shopping Centre in Santry, or to Charlestown in Finglas.

“The reality is that the regeneration programme has not been completed, and shopping facilities for the people of Ballymun are virtually non-existent.

“That is a tragedy for the people of the area… they should be able to shop in their own community where they meet their neighbours, have a coffee or drop into the public house to have a drink – all the normal things people expect to do in a place with such a large population… People want to know where they can meet their neighbours… to recreate their community spirit,” he said.

In response to Deputy Ellis’ comments, Deputy John Paul Phelan said he agreed with a majority of his points, saying that the redevelopment of the shopping centre will, at long last, complete the regeneration of Ballymun.

“It would not be unreasonable to hope that Dublin City Council could begin the consultation process when the demolition works are actually happening, so that what Deputy Ellis speaks about in terms of the completion of the regeneration of Ballymun, can happen as soon as possible,” Deputy Phelan said.