Inner city area gets festive life


RESIDENTS of a north inner city Dublin area badly affected by drug abuse were in festive mood yesterday for the ceremonial lighting of a Christmas tree donated by Dublin Corporation.

The Garda Assistant Commissioner, Mr Tom King, and the Lord Mayor, Mr Brendan Lynch, were among those who attended the ceremony at Buckingham Street, off Gardiner Street. The (Garda Band played as the lights were switched on by Ms Mary Hogg, whose son and daughter died from drug abuse.

The tree is decorated with more than 50 stars representing local people who have "died or are still suffering from the scourge of heroin". It is positioned on a traffic island outside St Joseph's Mansions.

A brass and wood plaque underneath the tree was supplied by the Fire Station artists' studios in Buckingham Street.

Mr Tim O'Brien from the Inner City Organisations' Network (ICON), which requested the tree, said it was "a symbol of the light that is beginning to shine in an area that has been plunged into darkness over the last 15 years as a result of the heroin problem".

The location of the tree "is significant because that's where the seeds of the heroin problem were and it ultimately spread throughout the area.

Dublin Corporation has donated a second tree for the square in the Rory O'Connor flats complex, off Hardwicke Street.

A Sinn Fein councillor, Mr Christy Burke, who asked for the donation of this tree, said he would ask Mr Lynch to switch its lights on over the next week.

Mr Burke said the tree was a "great tribute" to anti drugs protesters in the Hardwicke Street area who have kept the area drug free with their 24 hour patrols.

A spokeswoman for Dublin Corporation said the one off donations were aimed at "reaching out to the communities in response to their requests to brighten up Christmas".