Ballymun in June 2010

A good ten years into a regeneration project that was supposed to end in the last decade, this is the state of Ballymun before the cuts begin to bite. Almost all the green space has been swallowed by development; many of these new houses remain unoccupied. The promised cinema, retail centre and centres of employment never materialised, of course, but construction of housing continues.

Acknowledging defeat last year, Treasury Holdings invited former retailers in the the almost deserted shopping centre (gutted by buy-outs and closures) to return on a “temporary” basis, until the new town centre was up and running. A new Civic Centre was built at a cost of tens of millions, but planning notices (invariably denoting extinguishment of right of way to accommodate development) continue to direct residents to lodge objections at the council facility in Finglas.

Here, at the now-unoccupied flats on Sillogue Road, an unknown urban chronicler-in-graffiti sets us on our journey with a dash of cheerful fatalism:


Capturing that image was not without risk; this is what hangs precipitously overhead:


This ground floor flat’s boarding has been wrenched off by persons unknown…


…but almost all the metal firedoors, such as this one, which sealed the disused flats above have been professionally removed. Presumably they were needed elsewhere and the council couldn’t afford new ones. It’s an open invitation to squat in dangerous, structurally unsound and insanitary conditions:


Rubbish piled around the back of the tower blocks; its volume has increased markedly since the Labour-controlled Dublin City Council voted to abolish the bin waiver just before Christmas. Rather poignantly, the rubbish is dumped outside what used to be the garbage storage area fed by the chute system when the flats were in use. It has lain rotting in the sun for weeks:




Recession? What recession! P. Elliott & Company are still making out like bandits. Despite bucking the construction downturn by remaining hugely profitable, the company laid off brickies and replaced them with sub-contractors on this development late last year. The site was picketed as a result; for all the neighbourhood’s unjust reputation for lawlessness, the consequent Garda deployment at the small picket was the biggest seen in Ballymun for decades.


The hoarding which runs parallel to the Ballymun Road at Coultry has become something of a wailing wall for fringe republican groups; this poster is typical. Otherwise, political engagement with the community is minimal, bordering on non-existent.


These images may be graphic in their own way, but the detritus of a community eviscerated by neglect is as nothing compared to the effect on human lives. Take a good look at these pictures; when journalists, politicians and commentators talk, voices plangent with squirely concern, about fiscal consolidation, painful decisions and essential cuts, this is what they have in mind for you and yours, unless you happen to be one of them.

For a while in the 1980s and 1990s, Ballymun became something of a cause célèbre, an icon of “social deprivation” (the phrase that briefly made it acceptable for liberals to take an interest in inequality without proposing to do anything about it), a towering confirmation of the doctrine that poverty was a state of mind. What you see above is the end result of Capitalism With Irish Characteristics, what Labour and Fine Gael euphemistically refer to as “developer-led planning” (a shibboleth and get-out clause rolled into one.)

A change of government will do little to cushion the impending blow. Local, i.e. Labour, government is just as culpable (if not vastly more culpable) for the state the community finds itself in today. Can Ballymun take it? At every level of interaction with the state, Ballymunners have come to realise that their options are to keep their heads down and suffer, or resist and suffer more. That’s the great thing about capitalism. It’s all about choice.

12 Responses to “Ballymun in June 2010”

  1. Mark P Says:

    Good post.

  2. C. Flower Says:

    Regeneration by the regenerators for the regenerators

  3. dfallon Says:

    Excellent post, thanks for this.

  4. The other Dublin. « Come here to me! Says:

    […] 17, 2010 by dfallon An incredible post from Circumliminia most worthy of your time, showing just how the “regeneration project” is going over in Ballymun. At every level […]

  5. Peter Says:

    You said it. The £180 million rehousing scheme was really a €5 bn redevelopment bonanza for FF and it developers buddies. It was never going to be a regeneration scheme in the honest sense of the word, for to be so would have involved tough decisions tantamount to social engineering. Instead, the tax incentives led to overpriced houses which locals couldn’t afford. Investors bought them and rented them back to the Local Authority who let them out to the same, narrow socio-economic group, which, salt of the earth they are, but simply are not in a position to change the history of the previous 30 odd years. Ballymun in 10 years time will be NO different to Ballymun in the 1980’s. I know. I grew up there. I campaigned for there. But few wanted to listen and the powers that be are holier than everyone. How sad.

  6. Patholigising poverty « Circumlimina Says:

    […] By DublinDilettante My recent post about conditions in Ballymun mid-”regeneration” garnered quite a response. It surprised no less than it gratified me, because to someone familiar […]

  7. Bill Tormey Says:

    From the attitudes you exhibit here, it is just as well that you are not involved in regenerating the area.

  8. Bill Tormey Says:

    You can take people out of physical buildings but those who are hugely disruptive will remain so when moved nearly. This is the experience of many in Ballymun and it is no way surprising.

    • DublinDilettante Says:

      Sure why I would be involved, Doc? I just live there.

      Seriously, Bill? You are a councillor for Ballymun/Finglas. These pictures were taken IN YOUR WARD, and that’s the extent of your response? Shrug your shoulders because scum will be scum? Why doesn’t this happen on Glasnevin Avenue? Why doesn’t it happen in Foxrock? Do those areas house a better class of person than the ward you’re supposed to serve, or are these pictures the result of economic deprivation and state indifference, neglect and outright malice?

  9. Cass Flower Says:

    Bill, this could all have been and should have been anticipated well in advance. If the people of Ballymun had been kept at the heart of decision-making and their local knowledge employed, the outcome would have been different.

    The most elementary mistakes have been made at Ballymun ( play area developed without public overlooking for example) that were totally avoidable, as can be seen from comparison with regeneration projects that put people at the centre of the project.

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