Management at The Square, Tallaght have said a planned €100 million expansion is being postponed because of difficulties caused by Covid-19.

The Square is celebrating its 30th birthday and when it was opened in 1990 it was the biggest shopping centre in the country at 500,000 square feet.

Then taoiseach Charles Haughey opened the centre and 15,000 people turned up to watch the ceremony.

It was the first big investment in the area and followed years of recession. Many local people said the centre, and the facilities that it brought such as the cinema, transformed their lives.

It is proud of its community spirit and the managers promote a number of local groups.

Darren Moran Shiels, who owns Jackie's Florist, says there is a community feeling in The Square that is not present in other centres such as Dundrum and Blanchardstown.

Sisters Mary Coady and Alice Colcough have been working in the Square for the entire 30 years and are now behind the Customer Service desks.

Ms Coady said the place operates like a community centre in some ways - there is a space called Cathryn's corner where older people can gather to talk - however, this had to be closed because of Covid-19.

Despite an extension of nearly 5,500 square metres in 1996 and a refurbishment in 2009, owners of the centre have been trying for some years to increase the retail space and introduce more restaurant facilities.

Penneys have been looking for space for their first outlet in the centre and have announced their intention to move in on two occasions along with planned expansions. Each time these plans failed to materialise.

However, there have been two major legal disputes that have held up development, one involving the biggest tenant Dunnes, who objected to one expansion plan.

Despite this, the centre has a viable future according to Marcus Wren of Sigma Retail Partners, managers for Oaktree Capital who became the owners in 2018.

Mr Wren said that a typical customer in The Square comes in two or three times a week, compared to other shopping centres where customers come in two or three times a month.

It is also connected through the Luas Red Line and has the second busiest taxi rank in the country after Dublin Airport.

At the moment there are 160 retail units with a footfall of 15 million per year.

However, construction on extensions to the North and South totaling 22,000 sq m will not start until 2022 "at the earliest", according to Mr Wren.

He said major retail outlets are consolidating at the moment and it will be next year before they will be thinking about expansion.