Jobstown: Has anything really changed?

Did last week’s court verdict mark a town’s political awakening?

Amanda Spencer, head coach with Jobstown Boxing Club, with Tiffany Spencer, Ava Mc Cabe, Joshua O Laniyan and his brother Adam, Brandon Hall, JJ Marshall, Ryan Dunne and James Gray coach. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Amanda Spencer, head coach with Jobstown Boxing Club, with Tiffany Spencer, Ava Mc Cabe, Joshua O Laniyan and his brother Adam, Brandon Hall, JJ Marshall, Ryan Dunne and James Gray coach. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Amanda Spencer stands in a boxing ring, surrounded by playfully sparring club members, in the Jobstown Boxing Club, one of the 18,000-strong suburb’s few social clubs.

The club’s motto is “We Take Boxing Seriously”, and so it does. Classes are offered throughout the week for children, seniors and carded fighters; squad training takes place on a Saturday, while the club often opens on Sundays for members to spar.

Club members have gathered together for darker reasons, too. Last January one of its members, Reece Cullen, aged just 17, was stabbed to death at a house in nearby Kilclare Crescent.

Mr Cullen had not turned up to training for a few months, but had shown interest in coming back the weekend before he was murdered: “He texted me two nights before he died and said to me, ‘Can I come back up on Monday and start afresh?’

“And I said, ‘Yeah, of course.’ That never happened, it was tragic,” Ms Spencer, the club’s coach, said. Club members formed a guard of honour at his funeral at the Church of St Martin de Porres in Old Bawn in Tallaght.

Three months later, the members, including Ms Spencer, attended the funeral of another local man, Stephen Lynch (32), a father-of-three who was killed in a hit-and-run incident at Brookview Close in Jobstown on April 13th.

Though not a boxer, Mr Lynch had a close connection with the club as his girlfriend’s brother is a champion boxer there: “No one [outside the area] cares, it’s just another death, another murder,” Ms Spencer said, sitting in the club’s humble headquarters on Kiltalown Road.

Today, Jobstown is best known for the November 2014 water charges protests that led last week to the prosecution and acquittal of local Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and five other protesters.

Posters declaring allegiance, “Our water, not for profit” or “Vote Left, Vote for a change” hang from lamp-posts in the Dublin 24 suburb: “There’s more to Jobstown than that,” Ms Spencer said.

‘Disadvantaged’ area

Twenty kilometres west of Dublin city centre, nestling at the foot of the Dublin Mountains, Jobstown is classified as “disadvantaged” by State agency Pobal, with small pockets listed as “very disadvantaged”.

Echoing Ms Spencer, local Labour councillor Martina Genockey said “the outcry would be different” had the deaths of Mr Cullen and Mr Lynch occurred in more affluent parts of Dublin.

“It’s like as if people expect certain things from certain areas,” she said.

In the eyes of some, last week’s court verdict marked the political awakening of previously dormant areas long ignored by the centre, but on a quiet Monday morning it does not feel like that in Jobstown.

For most residents, life continues as normal. Political parties and left or right battles, or even engagement with local politicians remains an alien subject: “I really don’t know who he [Paul Murphy] is,” said Lewis Loftus, aged 24.

Sandra Fay [former AAA-PBP candidate] is the only one I’d know. She’s from around here, you actually see her around here. She’s doing her bit for the community. I’ve never seen him [Paul Murphy] around the area here before,” he added.

Mr Loftus said he would probably vote for Sinn Féin in the next election, “being Irish you know what I mean, stick to me roots”; while a group of passing men and women simply said they “don’t know anything about that” when asked about the trial.

Making a difference

However, Mary Delaney was hopeful: “They may not necessarily follow Paul Murphy but I think it will wake them up politically. A lot of people, who I thought were dormant, you heard their emotions, and say, ‘Yeah I can make a difference.’”

The 64-year-old is studying community development and social care at the local community education centre, An Cosán – ironically, the building that Joan Burton was stopped from leaving three years ago by the protestors.

“People are just concerned about their own lives but now feel ‘somebody will listen to us’. People can demonstrate and do it peacefully and that’s what they want to do. They want to be heard. People are beginning to talk about what’s going on and what’s affecting the area,” she said.

One young woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I wouldn’t have a clue because I don’t follow anything like that, so I wouldn’t know. I don’t follow politics or anything like that, I don’t vote.

“I just checked to see if they were guilty or not guilty and when I found out they were not guilty I said, ‘Grand, that’s great. Great result,’” she said, though she shared Ms Delaney’s hopes that the verdict may change some things.

Bridget Doyle (50) lives in Ardmore in Tallaght and shares the same constituency, but is less hopeful that anything will change: “They’re all the same [political parties]. They promise you this, they promise you that and as soon as they get in, nothing changes. Enda Kenny promised this, that and whatever and look what he done. I don’t vote for any of them. I did years ago. I’ve no faith in Labour, or any of them, any more.”

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