Wednesday 12 December 2018

Fantastic Finglas can only get even better with new luas link – Christy

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Christy Dignam pictured in Finglas
Christy Dignam pictured in Finglas
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

Christy Dignam, one of the most famous sons of Finglas, believes the time is right for the Luas to be extended to his childhood home.

The Aslan singer has welcomed the plan to stretch the Cross City Luas out to Finglas – part of Project Ireland 2040 – but wishes the building work wasn’t going to take nine years.

“The Luas would improve the area a lot, but the only concern is the Government have promised it for years, so I really want to see a concrete commitment on this,” he told the Herald.

“The main thing is if it goes ahead, it will be fantastic for Finglas. For too long, it’s only been the middle class areas of Dublin that have had such investment. I remember as a young man, if you put on a job application you were from Finglas, it worked against you.

“If you improve the transport in and out of Finglas, it can do nothing but good for the people who live there and the value of houses will go up too.”

The 57-year-old, who was diagnosed with Amyloidosis, an incurable blood cancer, in 2013, has seen Finglas suffer economically and socially for years.

The census in 2016 listed it as one of Ireland’s unemployment blackspots. In Finglas North, unemployment was at 28.9pc and in Finglas South 28.7pc. The national employment figure was 61.4pc.

Just 40pc of schoolchildren in Dublin 11, mostly Finglas, attend third-level education compared with progression rates of around 100pc for children in Dublin 4, Dublin 6 and Dublin 6W.

Research shows that a student’s proximity to a third-level institution is one of the factors as to whether or not they go on to university. This information was supported by a 2016 analysis from the grant body Susi.

However, an improved transport link will bring great possibilities, according to Christy.

“If you invest in Finglas with transport and more infrastructural money, you will see a vast improvement because the people of Finglas are hard workers and the majority are good, salt of the earth people,” he said.

“We’ve had so many famous people from Finglas, sportspeople, musicians and a lot of entrepreneurs. You do have a small amount of criminality, but most people in Finglas would do anything for you.

“You’d have to have grown up in Finglas to see how great it is, how great the people are.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to grow up anywhere else. I knew all my neighbours and knew I never had far to go for a favour.

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“When I was starting off in the band, all the local schools let us put gigs on. If I was born anywhere else, I’d never have had the support I got from Finglas.

“People from there feel because of all the negative stuff that’s reported in the media, it’s nice to prove something good comes out of Finglas.

“If you go into a middle class neighbourhood, the community spirit doesn’t exist like that.

“My father still lives there, so I still spend a lot of time in Finglas.

“My wife, Kathryn, has had a hairdressing salon there for years, Hairs ‘N Graces, and she loves it there. People are very loyal. Because she’s from Finglas, people want to help – there’s that community spirit.”

Finglas has been placed at the centre of the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 plan with a Luas line proposed to link the south city into Dublin and on into Finglas. There will be four new stops – Finglas, Lucan, Poolbeg and Bray.

Although the new line isn’t expected to be complete until after 2027, there is already a buzz of new life being breathed into the community historically left off the official agenda.

Ellen Drumm, president of the North Dublin Chamber of Commerce, said: “We have significant unemployment across Finglas and the area has poor public transport provision.

“It’s difficult for employers because it’s hard for employees to get to work, and there’s very little housing development.

“Even if you get employees to work in Finglas, they’re often living in Meath or somewhere because that’s where the housing is being built. It drives up wage costs.

“From our members in Cabra, we know there’s been very positive employee feedback from having the Luas there.

“The Luas will help regenerate Finglas but it’s important where the line will be. It has to cross the N2 and go into the historic heart of Finglas.

“We believe it will attract new business – from IT companies to design and manufacturing.

“Finglas is close to the M1, Dublin port and airport and it’s very close to the city centre.

“All the elements are there for a very successful regeneration.”

For more information on Project Ireland 2040 visit the official website 

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