WHY IS THIS TASK-FORCE BEING ESTABLISHED?
As both a Government Minister and a T.D., I am extremely proud to represent the communities of the North-East inner City. It is a vibrant and proud community where many great people live and work and where fantastic local organisations do huge work. However, the shootings that took place on our streets earlier this year, coupled with continuing problems with the sale and supply of illegal and prescription drugs, shocked and led to a sense of anxiety and fear developing among our community. In response, the Taoiseach along with myself and other Ministers met with local residents, community and voluntary groups in St. Laurence O’Toole’s C.B.S. to listen to people’s views. At that meeting, the Taoiseach committed the Government to taking action to address the economic and social needs we have and that he will lead this work in his role as Head of Government.
GARDAÍ RESPONSE TO VIOLENT SHOOTINGS
Huge efforts have been made by the Gardaí to reassure families and our communities across the north-east inner that all actions are being taken to prevent any further shootings and ensure those responsible are arrested and brought before the Courts. Local Gardaí have now made 36 arrests into these shootings, seized 17 firearms and approximately €1m worth of assets under the Criminal Assets legislation. The Government has provided an extra €50m towards Garda overtime allowing local officers continue with the policing initiatives that have been in place recently. Furthermore, Government will be accelerating the rate of recruitment to the Gardaí later this year.
HOW WILL THIS TASK-FORCE WORK?
This initiative will be two-fold. Firstly, the Taoiseach will establish a Ministerial task-Force, which his Department will lead, to oversee the initiative, both from an immediate view and longer-term. Secondly, the Government has asked Kieran Mulvey, former Chair of the Labour Relations Commission, to prepare a report for the task-Force by November. Kieran Mulvey has agreed to complete this work which will recommend specific measures to support the long-term economic and social regeneration of the North-East inner City.
HOW CAN YOU TAKE PART IN THE TASK-FORCE?
As part of his work, Kieran Mulvey will engage directly with local residents, community and voluntary groups in the North-East inner city, including your public representatives. Government does not have all the answers, so it is essential that we get your input as to what you think should happen both in the coming weeks and years.
CAN GOVERNMENT UNDERTAKE SOME IMMEDIATE & TARGETED MEASURES?
Throughout the past month, the Taoiseach has joined myself and Councillor Ray McAdam in meeting individual groups across the Sean McDermott Street and North Wall areas. Those discussions have centred on what practical immediate steps that Government can take to support our communities in the North-East inner City. Following that consultation and further engagement with various Government Departments, a number of immediate action steps have been agreed. These measures include:
- Investment of €1m in funding by the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport in sports facilities for Sheriff Youth Club, Larkin Community College and the installation of new mini pitches and the redevelopment of the former Pigeon Club in Ballybough.
- €500,000 in funding from the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government to help Dublin City Council complete public realm improvements and support local community & youth projects.
- Re-opening Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station with initial refurbishment works to begin this year.
- Providing an additional €100,000 from the Department of Health to support projects that work directly with those recovering from addiction.
- Refurbishing ground floor in Buckley House through funding from Department of Arts for the provision of new artists’ workshops.
- Funding a feasibility study to determine whether artists’ studios could be developed in the former Magdalene Laundry on Sean McDermott Street.
- Confirmation of funding to allow redevelopment of the Rutland Street School to become permanent hub for local community projects.
- These measures will be undertaken throughout the rest of 2016 with further actions to be completed next year. The task-Force that will be chaired by the Taoiseach will make sure these proposals are implemented.
WHAT FURTHER MEASURES ARE BEING TAKEN BY GOVERNMENT?
In addition to the specifically targeted measures in the North-East inner City, the Government has put in place a number of further measures which will benefit the communities in North Wall, Sean McDermott Street and Summerhill. These measures include:
- Construction work beginning on the new HSE Primary Health Care Centre on the former Mountainview Court site in Summerhill.
- Approval of €22m in funding to allow construction works begin on the planned Dominick Street regeneration project.
- The introduction of new Misuse of Drugs legislation to make the sale of prescription drugs illegal and strengthen Garda powers to catch those dealing in prescription tablets.
- The establishment of new anti-gang task-force within the Gardaí to specifically target criminal gangs.
- Amending Criminal Assets legislation to enable Gardaí to seize proceeds of crime more easily.
- Developing a new National Drugs Strategy.
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?
Along with the Taoiseach and Kieran Mulvey and other Ministers, myself and Councillor Ray McAdam held a follow-up meeting with residents, community groups and other voluntary organisation this week to discuss these proposals. Kieran Mulvey will now begin work on talking with residents’ groups, community leaders and other stakeholders as he works to draft his report that will be presented to the Taoiseach by November at the latest.
Between now and then, both myself and Councillor Ray McAdam will be working with the Taoiseach and our colleagues in Government to deliver the immediate measures outlined above.
We are immensely proud to be your representatives in the Dail and on Dublin City Council. We are committed to working with you and Government so that the challenges we face as a community are overcome and that people can live their lives without the fear and anxiety we all felt earlier this year.