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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Questions: Regeneration projects [15758/20]

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Questions: Regeneration projects [15758/20]. (14 Jul 2020)

URL: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2...


  1. Deputy Mary Lou McDonaldasked the Taoiseach if he will report on the role of his Department in the north east inner city initiative. [15758/20]

The Taoiseach - The Mulvey report, Dublin North East Inner City - Creating a Brighter Future, commissioned by the Government and published in February 2017, contained recommendations for the social and economic regeneration of Dublin's north-east inner city, NEIC. This report has been further supplemented by the publication of the NEIC strategic plan 2020 to 2022, which is available on www.neic.ie 

In June 2017, the Government appointed an independent chairperson to the NEIC programme implementation board. Members of the board include representatives from relevant Departments and agencies, business and the local community. The board is assisted in its work by six subgroups: enhancing policing; maximising education, training and employment opportunities; family well-being; enhancing community well-being and the physical landscape; substance use, misuse, inclusion and health; and alignment of services.

The board and its subgroups continue to meet on a monthly basis to oversee and progress the implementation of the Mulvey report and the next strategic plan for 2020 to 2022. Officials from my Department work closely with the board, the subgroups and the dedicated programme office based on Sean McDermott Street. The chairperson of the board reports to an oversight group of senior officials chaired by the Secretary General of my Department. This group, which has met 11 times, ensures strong and active participation by all relevant Departments and agencies and deals with any barriers or issues highlighted by the board. The Cabinet committee on social affairs and equality will provide political oversight of the NEIC initiative. 

The Government is committed to supporting and investing in the north-east inner city community and ensuring that the board has the necessary resources to achieve its targets and fulfil its ambition. To this end, the Government made available €6.5 million in funding for the initiative in 2020. Some highlights of what the board has delivered to date include an increased Garda presence in the area, with the Garda community support van, supporting a focus on community policing, particularly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic; funding provided for establishing a Garda project focused on drug-related intimidation, which commenced in the area, continues to have positive effects; a full-time intercultural development co-ordinator was employed for the NEIC; continued operation of Ireland's first social inclusion hub in the NEIC; funding provided for the homeless case management team and a residential stabilisation programme. Funding was also provided to a career local employment action partnership, LEAP, which supports young jobseekers into work placements and employment, as well to establish the City Connects programme and a local early learning initiative. A green ribbon project was rolled out for environmental clean-up and litter prevention in partnership with local residents, and a comprehensive programme of sport and well-being activities has continued to support local people even throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Progress reports on the NEIC initiative are available on www.neic.ie for 2017, 2018 and 2019. The Government remains committed to supporting and investing in the north-east inner city community and in ensuring that the chairperson and programme implementation board have the necessary resources to help make the area a better place in which to work and live.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald- In addition to everything the Taoiseach has recalled regarding the setting up of this inner city initiative, it should also be recalled that the north-east inner city was caught in the grip of what was referred to as a "gangland feud" at the time. He will recall that lives had been lost, the community, including children, was traumatised by the incidents they had been witnessed and at the time there, was an understanding that there had to be an intervention that was wider than a policing or criminal justice response. That response had to be holistic, progressive and recognise the history and the reality of intergenerational poverty and the very specific social circumstances of the north-east inner city. By the way, I do not argue that the inner city of Dublin is unique in that regard; sadly, it is not. 

I argue at this stage for a review of this initiative. I had hoped to hear more energy and commitment in the Taoiseach's response to this issue. This should never turn into a box-ticking exercise or something on which there is routine reporting. If we get this initiative right in the inner city of Dublin, then we will have the potential to get it right elsewhere as well. First, we have to establish if the approach being adopted is working. Is the project making a substantive difference to the lives and generations of the people who live in the inner city? 

I was struck last week when I was listening to the Taoiseach talking about drug use and misuse. He very correctly spoke of things such as resilience, self-confidence and respect, all those things to which we all subscribe. What was missing from his analysis, however, was any real appreciation or recognition that poverty is systemic, that inequality is toxic and that communities in which generation after generation suffer deprivation and marginalisation will experience real consequences. One of the consequences that can be measured is drug addiction and drug misuse. We, therefore, need to review this initiative. The boundaries of the project need to encapsulate the north-west inner city as well the north-east inner city. Critically, we need to go to the community, measure and ask if this project is making a difference and what needs to change and what needs to be enhanced. 

The Government is commited to supporting and investing in the north east inner city community and in ensuring that the board has the necessary resources to achieve its targets and fulfill its ambitions. To this end, the Government has made available €6.5 million in funding for the initiative in 2020. Some highlights of what the board has delivered to date in 2020 include: increased Garda presence in the area, the Garda community support van supporting a focus on community policing, particularly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic; funding was provided to establish a Garda project focused on drugs-related intimidation, which commenced in the area and continues to have positive benefits; a full-time intercultural development co-ordinator employed for the NEC; continued operation in the NEC of Ireland's first social inclusion hub; funding provided for the homeless case management team; funding provided for residential stablilisation programme; funding provided to local career leap supporting young jobseeker's into work placements and in employment; and funding provided to establish the city connects programmes; funding provided to the local early learning initiative; a green ribbon project rolling out environmental clean-up and litter prevention, in partnership with local residents; and a comprehensive programme of sport and well-being activities that has continued to support local…. 

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