herald

Saturday 1 November 2014

Bronx of Dublin? This is Ballymun and we're proud to live here, say families

GLOSSY women's magazine Marie Claire has compared a north Dublin suburb to scenes from Blade Runner.

THE 1982 sci-fi movie features a nightmare future vision of Los Angeles.

And it's this urban dystopia that the magazine uses to describe Ballymun in its Italian edition.

Today, residents dismissed the disparaging comments about their hometown, which Marie Claire also called the Bronx of Dublin.

The revitalised Dublin community finds itself featuring in the current edition of the glossy with an article on the regeneration plan.

Local Labour TD John Lyons says some quotes and descriptions have caused consternation and anger.

"The article was based on interviews with residents in 2011 that were manipulated," he said.

"I've lived all my life in Ballymun, and these simplistic views of being the Bronx of Dublin serve no purpose and annoy me," he said.

Several residents today insisted the unflattering comparison could not be further from the truth.

Mother of three Joanna Basnett (44) has lived in Ballymun since she was a toddler.

"I grew up in the Balcurris flats and now I'm in Shangan, and the difference is unreal. Ballymun is not a ghetto. It is not the Bronx," she said.

"I love it here. My new home is a dream come true."

Mark O'Brien has been working in the Axis arts and community resource centre for nine years.

"There is huge engagement here, and Axis is here because the community want it," the arts centre director explained.

Many people who engage in the arts have gone on to become performers.

One such is Fair City actress Stephanie Kelly (25) from Sillogue, who plays brassy blonde Sasha Bishop.

"If it wasn't for Ballymun, I would never have got involved with drama and theatre studies," she said.

And the sporting prowess of Ballymun is not to be underestimated, with Leinster title holders Ballymun Kickhams now due to play the semi final in the senior club All Ireland against Dr Crokes of Killarney.

"Ballymun has had a stigma attached to it, but you have to be in it to experience the real Ballymun," said Kickhams and Dublin star Philly McMahon.

From his offices on the third floor of Ballymun Regeneration Ltd, projects and contracts liaison manager Eamon Farrelly looks out on a different Ballymun than was there five years ago.

"Out of 36 tower blocks, 31 are gone, and the remainder should be demolished within the year," he said.

cfeehan@herald.ie

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