Monday 20 February 2017

'I thought it was a joke at first' - The Irish village that's trying to pair with North Korea

David Kearns

Published 24/08/2016 | 09:59

John Moore, owner of The Merville restaurant in Finglas.
Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016
John Moore, owner of The Merville restaurant in Finglas. Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016
Mary Nardone and Anne Hunt of Enable Ireland in Finglas. Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016
Aisling Bird, manager of LLoyd's Pharmacy in Finglas. Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016
Alejandra Kranski. owner of Pretty you boutique in Finglas. Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016
Niamh Lambert of Finglas Village Renewal. Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016

Many people would be reluctant to travel there and its unpredictable dictator Kim Jong-un is constantly threatening war.

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However, that hasn’t stopped the suburb of Finglas seeking a twinning arrangement with North Korea.

The Finglas Village Renewal Partnership has written to officials in the secretive Asian state asking if anywhere in the country would like to ‘twin’ with their village. North Korea has yet to reply.

Surprisingly, many Finglas residents were yesterday in favour of such a move and said it could “put Finglas on the map”.

Aisling Bird, manager of LLoyd's Pharmacy in Finglas.
Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016
Aisling Bird, manager of LLoyd's Pharmacy in Finglas. Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016

“If it brings more people to the village, or if it draws the council’s attention to the area, I’m all for it,” said  Enable Ireland store manager Anne Hunt.

“I thought it was a joke at the beginning, but maybe it’s actually something worth considering. The village might even get a face-lift if it happens.

Mary Nardone and Anne Hunt of Enable Ireland in Finglas.
Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016
Mary Nardone and Anne Hunt of Enable Ireland in Finglas. Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016

“The regeneration of this area has been promised for years and we’re still waiting. This could be the push needed for the council to finally notice us,” she said.

John Moore, owner of The Merville Restaurant, voiced his support for the odd partnership with North Korea.

Alejandra Kranski. owner of Pretty you boutique in Finglas.
Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016
Alejandra Kranski. owner of Pretty you boutique in Finglas. Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016

“I don’t think there’s anyone around here who’d be supportive of North Korea’s treatment of its people, but we’re not looking to create links with the government, only a small village like ourselves.

“It’s not going to do any harm to Finglas. Honestly, the big bad world doesn’t exist for me. We’ve only been open four months, so this is my world,” he said.

Niamh Lambert of Finglas Village Renewal.
Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016
Niamh Lambert of Finglas Village Renewal. Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2016

“If something helps the village, I’m in favour of it because it helps all of us here trying to keep the lights on.”

While most local businesses spoken to by the Herald supported twinning Finglas with a North Korean village, others opposed the idea.

“North Korea is in the news an awful lot, and for all the wrong reasons. It’s got a bad reputation. Is that something we really want associated with Finglas?” asked Aislinn Bird, manager at Lloyds Pharmacy.

“As a community we deserve better than the ‘Glorious Leader’.”

Defending the partnership, Niamh Lambert from Finglas Villege Renewal said no one was endorsing North Korea.

“There are plenty of towns linked with Beijing, and China tops the list for human rights abuses. For us, we just want Finglas to get a bit of attention.

“We were twinned with a place in Massachusetts but they wanted nothing to do with us, so we’ve gone further afield.”

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