We define our heritage – Council worryingly disconnected from the people

6th April, 2013

Following revelations that the two beach huts in Balbriggan are to be demolished by Fingal County Council local Green Party Representative Joe O’Brien has come out against the move and questioned whether proper procedure has been followed.

Balbriggan Beach Hut

The huts are an important part of cultural and social life in Balbriggan and have been for many generations. What is most baffling about this decision is that Fingal County Council have in place a detailed Heritage Plan which clearly states its responsibility to not only protect structures like the beach huts but to promote understanding about their history and importance – it has clearly failed on a number of levels in this regard. Not only should the beach huts not be knocked, I propose that an information plaque is erected detailing their long history and varying roles over time. Balbriggan is rich is history and heritage but this sort of thoughtless and careless action betrays a disregard for Balbriggan which is unacceptable.

The Council have underestimated the people of Balbriggan and the pride they have in their home. These huts have a place in people’s hearts, their memories, their childhoods – this is what true heritage really is and this is provided for in the Heritage Plan that appears to have been ignored. It is we the people that define our heritage not the Council. I am very concerned about the level of disconnect that there is between the Council and Balbriggan not just on this but on other issues too, this needs to be remedied urgently.  I propose that the Council immediately stop plans for the demolition of the hut. But also on a more constructive and progressive note I propose that the Council sets up a formal open  public consultation and conference with the people of Balbriggan about the aspects of the town’s culture past and present, history and heritage that is dear to its people. This would serve not only as an educational exercise for the Council but for all the people of Balbriggan which is rich in heritage and culture both new and old. Let’s call such a consultation and conference ‘Love Balbriggan’! There is extraordinary pride of place in the people of Balbriggan that has not been adequately matched by local authority resources. The great thing about pride in one’s hometown is that once it is expressed it is contagious – let’s turn this careless and thoughtless action into something positive and let Fingal County Council and each other in Balbriggan know about the memories, places, stories and people that make Balbriggan a special place.