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Dublin: 18°C Tuesday 5 July 2022

Is everything ok with the government's proposed regeneration of Dublin's north inner city?

The Mulvey Report concerning that regeneration is to be launched this evening.

90425301_90425301 The Taoiseach and Paschal Donohoe, visiting the north inner city to meet with local community leaders last July Source: RollingNews.ie

A REPORT DISCUSSING ways and means of regenerating Dublin’s north inner city is to be launched today.

The Mulvey report, compiled by former head of the Workplace Relations Commission Kieran Mulvey, was first commissioned last July in the wake of a run of gangland killings in the city centre as the Hutch-Kinahan gangland feud caught fire.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny made a number of public appearances in the north inner city at that time and made a commitment towards a full regeneration of the area.

However, in the run up to the report’s publication rumours that all is not well as regards its recommendations have come to the fore.

Gossip has spread that problems have been forecasted ahead of the launch, which is due to take place at Sheriff Youth Club this evening at 6.15pm.

Local community group the North Inner City Community Coalition only heard tell of where the launch was to take place at about 4pm yesterday.

Tough week

Sources within the Taoiseach’s department have indicated that the delay in inviting community groups and the media has less to do with government nerves regarding the report’s context and more to do with “the week that’s in it” concerning the Taoiseach’s trials and tribulations with regard to the ongoing Maurice McCabe situation.

That is as may be, but such a defence inadvertently gives lie to the fears that had long been held in the community since the report’s announcement – that it was more to do with positive exposure for the Taoiseach than with any true concern on his part for an urban community that has been through the mill.

The lack of advance notice as to when and where the launch would be happening has, understandably, left community groups unsure of where they stand, although government sources moved to allay such fears saying that “full engagement” with all groups will be the order of the day at the launch itself.

Mystery surrounds whether or not the Rutland Street National School building is to be refurbished – a key commitment on the part of the Taoiseach.

Just two weeks ago Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, local representative for the area, accused the government of performing “a u-turn” regarding Rutland Street, and suggested that locals were worried that the site had been earmarked for private development.

While the Taoiseach earlier this week said that the school would be developed, and that Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station would likewise be reopened (another key promise), he acknowledged that the estimated cost of the school refurbishment had jumped from €2 million to €12 million.

90425306_90425306 Kenny and Kieran Mulvey (second right) addressing the media last July Source: RollingNews.ie

Mulvey himself had informally presented some of his proposals to the public two weeks ago. At that time, a rebranding or renaming of the area was mooted, but locals were more concerned about the fact housing did not appear to be on the agenda, given the ongoing homeless crisis currently being seen, the worst in the history of the state.

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“The biggest gap was housing,” says local councillor Éilis Ryan regarding that presentation. “Unless there’s a radical shift in approach I don’t see how that can be taken seriously.”

This report would be very, very misguided if it didn’t mention housing.

‘Damp squib’

“The report has taken twice the length of time to prepare as intended,” says Labour councillor Joe Costello, adding that Mulvey’s recent presentation “gave only the broad generalities and was devoid of specifics”.

(It) will be a damp squib unless it contains a structured plan, a detailed budget and strict timelines for delivery.  The local community must be included as stakeholders in the decision-making process.

“We’ve heard contradictory reports, first that everything was greater than expected, then that it was totally in line with projections,” says Ryan, who says she will “reserve judgement” on the report until she sees it.

“The Taoiseach made a commitment to Rutland Street, the council has said that it won’t be developed. No-one else has stumped up the money so it’s anyone’s guess,” she said, adding that a clear promise had been made to locals that a follow-up draft of the report would be distributed to the community ahead of any launch, something that did not happen.

There was a sense from the community that Mr Mulvey had chosen to ignore the core issues driving inequality in the area – lack of decent public housing and jobs, and gentrification of working class communities – and had instead focussed on business-friendly window dressing initiatives, such as rebranding the north inner city.

She added that until yesterday evening it had seemed that no formal invitation for community leaders or elected representatives would be forthcoming, adding that if that had happened it would have brought “into question the credibility of the entire initiative”.

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