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Daily Archives: May 12th, 2019

Very seldom do needs and ambitions combine to create a unique opportunity. It’s happening in Inchicore.

The League of Ireland football club, St. Patrick’s Athletic, are asking local election candidates in Dublin City to support their plan to build a new centre for Inchicore with community facilities, shops and extraordinarily a new football stadium on the roof. It involves demolition of the old Richmond Park stadium and a land swap.

Now the football club are seeking the support of all political parties for what they see – correctly – as a viable proposal. For candidates with working class credentials, however, it assumes an enormous significance.

Inchicore is an old, industrial working class town. What it needs most at present is a vibrant centre so that its citizens and visitors can have ordinary facilities – shopping, walking around, drinking coffee, meetings etc. The Pats  plan offers to deliver without spending state money. Opponents want to build houses on the prime central site.

Objections to the plan can be summarised as arguing that it is too good for Inchicore and there is a patronising class perspective running through them. These objectors (Let’s be blunt: they’re mostly middle class outsiders.) just don’t get it that Inchicore needs the kind of development that all towns strive for theses days.

Here are some of the objections.

The quite mad basic objection is that the stadium would be too big given the modest attendances at Pats games. Leaving ambition aside, what these objectors fail to see is that the stadium is on top of the centre and its size is dictated by the centre.

It is objected that a centre isn’t needed as there are lots of old shops in the streets which could be developed. On a commercial front, such old shops tend to spring into life again when a centre is developed nearby. Moreover, this centre includes a little stadium bringing people to those shops. On a class front, the objection is that citizens of Inchicore shouldn’t have a centre but should live in a museum-like old town, walking up and down their main street in all weathers with their shopping bags. Feck off!

It’s said that houses must be built on the land. Houses are indeed desperately needed and there are lots of places to build them, including the land made available by demolishing Richmond Park. However, this is a one-off opportunity to redevelop a working class town; build houses on the shopping centre cum stadium site and the opportunity is gone forever.

It’s objected that Pats is a private company and they cannot be given public land. Apart from the land swap involved, the objection is based on a complete failure to understand the nature of a very local football club. No one at all wants to vacate and demolish Richmond Park. It is loved beyond reason. Everyone would prefer to keep and develop it but there are physical and financial constraints.

The Pats proposal is a package: the shops finance the centre and the stadium. It’s the opportunity to bring a working class town up to the standards expected by the working class. That makes it more than business; it’s a class issue.

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