Protest held to help save Irish Centre

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Protesters who gathered outside the Wellington Rooms. Pic © Nadia Breen JMU Journalism

A demonstration was staged to help stave off the ruin of a much-loved city centre building as campaigners gathered outside the former Liverpool Irish Centre yesterday.

Liverpool Hope University Irish Society staged the protest on Mount Pleasant, with dozens of people in attendance.

The Wellington Rooms are 202 years old and were home of the Liverpool Irish Centre from 1965 to 1999, when it was placed on the National Heritage Risk Register. The building was a base for societies and clubs, hosting ceilis and drama performances, but now it suffers from dry rot.

Dearbháil Ní Reannacháin, Vice Chair of Liverpool Hope Irish Society believes “enough is enough” and that the building should not be left unused.

She told JMU Journalism: “We would like the building get back into Irish hands. We will work with other Irish community groups, but we need to get Irish students on board to help us win the building back.

“Here was a home for the Irish for many years and it had a big impact. When you speak to anyone, they call it the old Irish Centre, not the Wellington Rooms.

Twitter: Nadia Breen

“We had a meeting last week when councillors let us know that there are currently different plans of action being discussed.”

In February of this year, a six-week project was carried out by Quadriga workers in order to undertake urgent repairs on the leaking ceiling. This cost £100,000 and was jointly funded by Liverpool City Council and Historic England.

Proposals to turn it into a hotel in 2006 and 2007 were declined due to the detrimental impact a three-storey extension would have had on the building.

Protest organisers, Liverpool Hope Irish Society members. Pic © Nadia Breen JMU Journalism

City Councillor Nick Small also attended Saturday’s protest. He told JMU Journalism: “I grew up in a Liverpool Irish family and I remember the Old Irish Centre with fondness.

“I’ve been working with the City Council and Merseyside Building Preservation Trust to get investment into the Wellington Rooms and find a long-term sustainable use and, in my view, the Irish community in Liverpool need to be a big part of the future of the Wellington Rooms.”

A public consultation meeting was held in March to give the people of Liverpool a say on the future of the building. Results from this meeting will be announced later this month.

Twitter: Nadia Breen