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Man of the People

Enda Kenny's been visiting inner city Dublin and it's been going quite well

Locals are staying cautious though.

20/07/2016 The Taoiseach as he visit the North Eas The Taoiseach has a walkabout Dublin's north inner city area earlier today.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY today paid his fifth visit in six weeks to Dublin’s north inner city.

His trips are part of social regeneration plans for the area that he’s now given himself a direct role in.

This, it seems from the reaction from community workers, is all much appreciated.

“From what he says it’s been very positive,” says community worker Joe Dowling.

He met the people, he was on the ground with the people, he came to the crescent and met clients in the shop where we work and he was interested in the area as well, that’s what we want. We’re not looking for millions we just want to help this community.

20/07/2016 The Taoiseach speaking to Christy Burke Kenny speaks with councillor and former Lord Mayor Christy Burke.

The initiative to bring increased investment and government involvement to the area comes on the back of a brutal gangland war that has seen seven men shot dead in the last year.

Four of those fatal shootings happened within a short radius in this part of the city.

Calls for Kenny to visit the area led to the Taoiseach meeting community leaders last month and there have been other meetings in the interim. Today’s visit by the Taoiseach and six other ministers was about announcing the culmination of those efforts.

A ministerial taskforce has been appointed to deliver on recommendations for the area with the Taoiseach chairing it.

Kieran Mulvey, formerly of the Workplace Relations Commission, will prepare a report for taskforce taking in the views of local community and public representatives. 

The report will then be presented to the Taoiseach before the end of November.

The plan is to recommend measures that will benefit the area in the short and long-term.

Before the taskforce gets to work, a number of short-term measures have also been announced.

These include an additional €1 million for sports facilities and projects in the area as well as €500,000 for a clean-up programme targeting graffiti and derelict sites.

There’s also to be €100,00 in funding for drug-related projects and the re-opening of Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station.

Speaking about the area and its people, Kenny said that “99% of this community would give you the shirt of their back.”

I’ve met them over the past six weeks. I believe in their passion, I believe in their commitment to their area and to making their area a more liveable city for themselves and for their children.

Kenny added that the area has been “neglected by successive governments” and was asked whether he takes responsibility for his previous government doing the same.

“I accept responsibility for having to make the most difficult decisions of any government in the last fifty years,” he said.

(Click here if you can’t play video)

Local councillor Nial Ring was among the community workers meeting the Taoiseach and the other ministers today and he said that what was discussed was “very positive”.

We’re very encouraged. The reaction of the community has been very positive in there, so we’re just hoping that this is a new beginning and that the hopes and aspirations of this community in the north inner city can be fulfilled.

Local TD Mary Lou McDonald welcomed the increased investment for the area but expressed disappointment that the taskforce set up to deliver on the recommendations “is ministerial and will not have any community representation”.

“There is no reason to exclude the community voice from membership of the taskforce and every reason to include the community voice on the taskforce,” she said.

20/07/2016 The Taoiseach speaking to the media as There was a big media presence for the Taoiseach.

Good start 

Asked about this exclusion, locals say that vital to the success or otherwise of the taskforce will be how it interacts with the local community. 

“They also need key civil servants and what’s probably more important than those key civil servants is that there are NGOs or non-civil servants as part of it,” said one person who was present at today’s meeting.

“But so far so good.”

Read: Taoiseach called on to create ‘Docklands tax’ as part of north inner city taskforce >

Read: New Bill to give gardaí powers to crack down on Facebook, WhatsApp and email messages >

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