Call for action over ‘sorry state’ of Bogside Meenan Square shops site

The site at Meenan Square.

The site at Meenan Square.

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Derry Sinn Féin councillor Patricia Logue has called for new life to be breathed into the former shops complex at Meenan Square in the heart of the Bogside.

Councillor Logue says the demise of the shops complex over recent years has been well documented and is an ongoing concern.

Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue.

Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue.

She said: “The building is in a sorry looking state and has been a magnet for all sorts of anti-community activity.

“It’s the first sight that greets motorists coming off the Lecky Road Flyover and is right on the doorstep of local residents.

“There has been some good work done to clean up the old shop fronts but you can only do that for so long.

“I meet people on a daily basis who ask me as an elected representative for the area what can be done to turn this around and put it back to good use.”

Back in 2000 the Housing Executive sold properties at Meenan Square to a private commercial organisation.

In September this year, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and First Minister Arlene Foster announced a £45m investment across five urban villages’ including the Bogside/ Fountain region.

Mr. McGuinness said a revamp of the Meenan Shops site was seen as a priority.

“With other government partners we intend to take forward the regeneration of the Meenan Square shops complex and further public realm improvements,” he said.

Fears around child safety and anti-social behaviour in relation to the site have been expressed by local community workers over recent months.

One community worker branded the area “unsightly” and said it was “unbearable for people who are living with this on their doorstep.”

Colr. Logue said the measure of the success of the local Urban Village initiative will be the regeneration of Meenan Park.

“I believe we need to work collectively to address this and breathe new life into the area.

“This site was once the vibrant heartbeat of the Bogside with many local businesses and services.

“It has the potential to become the catalyst for change in this community and bring employment opportunities.

“It would also come at a time when the new building at the Museum of Free Derry is at an advanced stage and just across the road from Meenan Square we have the recently opened Áras Cholmcille/ The St Columba Heritage centre.

“It is vitally important that this complex is brought into public or community ownership for the greater good of the community and the residents that live close by.”