Breaking the cycle

North inner city

 

Former Labour Relations Committee chairman Kieran Mulvey has identified a range of actions to tackle the poverty, drug-taking and neglect that has blighted northeast inner city Dublin for decades. Some suggestions, involving more intense, consistent, community policing and ramped-up State investment are self-evident. Others, inviting multinational companies to fund local job creation and a proposal that youthful criminal records might be erased in order to facilitate employment, are innovative. Together, they will present a challenge for the ministerial taskforce headed by the Taoiseach.

This exercise in city centre rehabilitation is rooted in community involvement and will require the co-operation of local activists, small businesses, residents’ associations and charitable organisations. It will also require major State investment and a significant improvement in the quality of public services, from policing to education and social services. The bottom-up response should also benefit from the location of two high-profile politicians in the constituency: Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe and Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald.

It took a succession of murders involving the Kinahan/Hutch gangs to stir the Government into action. That speaks volumes. An initial fund of €1.6 million was provided and the Taoiseach undertook to fund an investment programme.

Gardaí have made significant progress recently regarding drug seizures and gangland arrests in recent months. But anecdotal evidence suggests widespread drug dealing continues on the streets. In a community with few employment opportunities, involvement in this activity by young people can be expected. That is why companies at the International Financial Services Centre will be invited to provide jobs for local people and contribute to funding for third-level education. Striking out the youthful criminal record of a reformed adult may open a door to employment and prevent recidivism. It is an idea worth exploring. Employment and a sense of ambition are key to a confident and well-balanced community.

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