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Dublin north inner city locals object to charity homeless support centre opening in their area

Residents of North Wall lodged an official appeal after planning permission was granted for a new facility.

49 Seville Place
49 Seville Place
Image: Google Maps.

RESIDENTS IN DUBLIN’S north inner city are objecting to a planned charity advice centre opening in their area.

Residents of North Wall – which encompasses Sheriff Street, Crinan Strand, Seville Place and other areas – in Dublin say a new information and advocacy service will displace a community creche that has been operating in the area for 17 years.

The residents lodged an official appeal after planning permission was granted for the new facility, which will be run by social support charity Crosscare – the official charity of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin.

The facility will be located at No. 49 Seville Place. Permission was granted for the refurbishment of the building in December, with a view to Crosscare opening its service there.

The building in question belongs to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin (effectively it is Crosscare’s building).

A Crosscare spokesperson said that the building will:

Provide direct information and advocacy services in the areas of housing, homelessness, social welfare, immigration issues, health and wellbeing-related issues for those most need of support.

In a submission to Dublin City Council objecting against the facility, local woman Elaine Dooley said that the facility would not be good for the area for a variety of reasons.

“Our local school sits right facing this building and the community are not happy about this and the fact that strangers will be in and out of our community all day every day,” Dooley said in the letter.

“Plus there is a creche on the premises and been there for the last 17 years. For their refurbishment to go ahead this creche will be put out and the staff and children will have nowhere to go.

“This creche should have been offered this building to also house our after school project.

Crosscare is not beneficial to our community.

The submission contains over 200 signatures of residents from the local area.

The North Wall Community Association also submitted an observation in relation to the centre, asking that strict conditions be attached to its opening.

“There is a large degree of concern and anxiety surrounding this proposal within the local population,” the association said.

“The North Wall has suffered over the last 30 years from a deliberate policy of social exclusion, lack of housing, lack of jobs – high levels of anti-social behaviour.

This proposal is being viewed in some quarters as a continuation of the longstanding policy of dumping.

Locals are worry that additional social supports services will be bad for the area, which already suffers from drug crime and antisocial behaviour.

Creche

Celine McCann set up the creche and the after school support programme on Seville Place 18 years ago as a response to a need in the community.

A local woman, she runs ASESP (the Afterschools Education & Support Programme)  for youths for ages three to 18 years.

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ASESP does not have its own dedicated centre and so the services are spread across a number of different buildings in the north inner city.

“We’re good for the community,” McCann told TheJournal.ie.

“To be honest with you we’ve had staff that left school at 14 who have gone on then to do degrees and they’re now here working for us permanently,” she said.

It’s causing a ripple effect across the entire community.

ASESP employs 35 staff and caters for 130 children from the area. It is mostly funded by the Department of Social Protection and Pobal.

McCann said she has been fighting for years to try to get a dedicated building for all of the services she provides but has had a lot of trouble sourcing a place.

Nine staff work with 32 children at the facility on Seville Place.

“Because we know Crosscare are moving into the parish priest’s house we’ve been looking for a new place,” McCann told TheJournal.ie.

A spokesperson for Crosscare said that McCann’s programme “no longer consider the building as a good base for their service”.

“Crosscare is working with them to find better accommodation locally. They will not move until a suitable building has been secured,” the spokesperson said.

McCann said that her Programme was being asked to leave by Crosscare and that they were effectively being evicted.

“We’ve been asked to leave [by Crosscare],” said McCann.

“We haven’t been given a date yet but we’ll know when we get one,” she said.

We’d like to leave if we had a purpose-built building – I don’t think Crosscare is going to wait that long. We’ll have to wait and see.

Objection 

Planning permission was granted for the refurbishment of the building on 14 December last year.

Elaine Dooley has since appealed that decision and it has been sent to An Bord Pleanála for a final ruling.

In her appeal, Dooley restates that she is writing on behalf of the community and lists the points she raised in the initial objection, as well as others.

“Crosscare will deal with unemployment, immigration and homelessness and will bring many transients into an already desperate community affected by strangers coming in to buy drugs at all hours,” Dooley said.

She also said losing the creche would be “a major blow to our young children and mothers in our area”.

Dooley also listed off a number of similar services that are already present in immediate the local area, which include:

  • An aftercare recovery group for recovering drug addicts next door
  • The Oasis and Deora addiction counselling services around the corner
  • A residential home for at risk teens across the road

As well as these, two local primary schools are located across the road from the building.

“Our community tries to its best to help one another and we feel it would be detrimental to this community if Crosscare moving in is allowed to happen,” said Dooley.

We as a community strongly appeal for the decision granted to Crosscare be overturned.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Dooley said that she understood that Crosscare did good work, but that the centre wasn’t needed in the area.

In response to queries, a Crosscare spokesperson said that it was planning a refurbishment of the building to locate its information and advocacy services.

“These vital services provide direct information and advocacy services in the areas of housing, homelessness, social welfare, immigration issues, health and wellbeing-related issues for those most need of support,” the spokesperson said.

They said that Crosscare was committed to working with the local community so that it could “provide the best service possible”.

“With this in mind, a public information meeting took place  in the local Parish Church of St. Laurence O’ Toole a number of weeks ago where Crosscare and parish staff spoke of the planned developments and answered questions from all who attended,” they said.

Dublin City Council said that its decision to grant the planning application had been appealed and that the final decision now rested with An Bord Pleanála.

Read: Apollo House will soon be a thing of the past as demolition work begins

Read: The firm behind Ireland’s largest homeless family hub was previously paid millions to run a Direct Provision centre

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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