Public meeting on ‘The People’s Hall’

One of Derry’s best known social campaigners, Dermie McClenaghan, has publicly called upon the community to take action over the future of St Columb’s Hall.

Echoing the sentiments of many in the city, Mr McClenaghan has called a public meeting at 5pm next Tuesday evening, November 29, at Sandinos Back Bar to discuss the future of the much loved local landmark and the community’s involvement in any future plans.

Recent weeks have seen conflicting reports regarding the hall. Last week, Fr Paul Farren, administrator of the parish which manages St Columb’s Hall, disclosed that several proposals were being considered by the Derry Diocese.

“The hall is an intolerable financial burden on the parish,” Fr Farren told the ‘Journal’.

Just one week earlier, Mr Billy Campbell, proprietor of Masons Bar, spoke exclusively to the ‘Journal’ about his grand plans for the building and his hopes of reinstating it as a premier live music venue, much like Belfast’s hugely successful Empire Music Hall. However, it is understood that another proposal involved plans by property developer Michael Taggart to turn the listed building into a restaurant and nightclub. Mr Taggart hit the headlines in 2008 when his multi-million pounds property empire collapsed.

Organisers of next Tuesday’s meeting hope to attract a wide spectrum of the community. “It is the view of many people that the hall has an organic relationship with the people of Derry,” said Dermie McClenaghan.

“The hall, in justice, belongs to the people in the Derry community. I believe that this morally nullifies the legal ownership of it. The community must decide,” he added.

The public meeting takes place at Sandinos Back Bar next Tuesday, November 29, at 5pm. All welcome.

(See today’s Letters page on P. 34 for Mr McClenaghan’s full piece on St Columb’s Hall.)