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Saturday 23 August 2014

Debts force UCD students to call time on pub

PHILIP RYAN

Published 09/09/2012 | 05:00

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UCD students will be left without one of the staples of university life this year as the college's student union bar has been forced to close after long-running financial difficulties.

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However, new and returning scholars will be greeted by a €50m student centre, which includes an Olympic-standard swimming pool and a cinema.

With no watering hole on campus, UCD students may have more time to take part in extra-curricular activities.

The UCD student pub was once Ireland's busiest bar and was the scene of many raucous concerts over the years, with performances from Irish music legends such as Shane McGowan, Christie Moore and The Dubliners.

However, only two months ago, the Sunday Independent revealed that the bar's management, which is made up of students and college staff, were in last-ditch talks to save the bar and the jobs of the nine full-time employees.

The bar had run up huge bills over the course of several years with the Students' Union itself owing a massive €90,000.

Meanwhile, the Forum Bar, the university's other drinking house, remains closed pending refurbishment and it is unclear when it will re-open.

"We are frustrated at the prolonged negotiations with the bursar and the inactivity of the college on this issue," said Students' Union president Rachel Breslin yesterday.

A university spokesman said: "The UCD Student Club closed on June 15 and a new bar called the Sports Club House, associated with the new student centre, is currently under development."

The new 11,000sqm student centre, which was built with levies from the college registration fee and is expected to be mortgage free in 20 years, will offer some sanctuary to stressed students.

The centre's pool facilities include a sauna, steam room, tepidarium and jacuzzi.

Or if they fancy a workout to take their minds off their dissertations they might want to hit the 150-piece gym or use the complex's spinning room or dance studio with floating floor.

The complex, designed by Fitzgerald Kavanagh and Partners, features a 90-seat cinema, student offices, meeting rooms and a 125-seat theatre.

The centre also includes a tournament-grade debating chamber named after the late Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, which features retractable seating and a standing gallery.

The centre is free to students except for the pool area where they will have to pay €4 per swim or €100 a year for unlimited pool access.

The public is allowed access to the health and fitness centre but they will have to pay €800 a year to become members, while the annual fee for UCD staff is €450.

Sunday Independent

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