There is much talk in the city regarding the future of St. Columb’s Hall and I believe that there are two main reasons for this and these are interwoven.
The hall dwells in the heart of the Derry community as it has been a cultural centre in the city for many years. For that reason it came to be known as ‘the people’s hall’.
But in truth, if justice rather than legality is considered, there is another reason why the existence of that title is valid. It is because the hall is the property of the community. The people of Derry provided the finance for its very existence and subsequent upkeep. In this regard the ordinary people of the city gave their ‘widow’s mite’, a contribution that is larger than the amount of money it represents. It’s wrung out of hardship and the struggle for basic survival; a social landscape well-known to working-class people in Derry over the years.
At the present time, when our community is being crushed beyond forbearance by government austerity measures because of a situation created by a system that breeds greed and selfishness, that landscape remains the reality. Within it ordinary people are, of course, the major victims, austerity measures stealing from them not only a means of a decent life but also their pride and confidence.
Considering this, is it not wrong that what has been seen for over a hundred years as indivisible from the community might become the property of a profit-seeking developer? This should not happen, it is wrong.
There is a meeting to be held upstairs in Sandinos in Water Street next Tuesday 29th at 5pm to talk about this.
Dermie Mc Clenaghan.