Sir, – Well done to Denis Walsh for bringing the lack of green space in Dublin 8 to the attention of the general public in “‘We are just as entitled as the people of Stillorgan or Foxrock to have a pitch’ – Kevin’s GAA continue to fight for an inner-city facility” (Sport, December 3rd). The lack of playing facilities- “86 per cent below the internationally recommended level of green space per person” – in the Liberties is not just a rights issue in that it contravenes “every person’s right to live in an environment adequate to his or her health and wellbeing”, as per the Arhus Convention, a human rights document to which Ireland is a signatory.
It is also a question of logic: investment in community resources such as community centres and playing fields improve the outcomes for a community which ultimately saves the State money down the line.
This becomes particularly apparent when comparing the Liberties with better resourced areas of the city and country, as low as 5 per cent progression rate to third-level education compared to 70 per cent nationally and as high as 50 per cent adult male unemployment compared to 13.7 per cent nationally.
Lack of opportunities and lower outcomes combined with a sense of being forgotten about and marginalised by the State create fertile ground for criminality to take hold, requiring higher investment in justice services and also causing the area to be stereotyped and consequently disregarded when future resourcing is being considered.
Worryingly, the combination of these factors, especially the sense of marginalisation, creates fertile ground for an under-resourced community to consider their marginalisation in relative terms compared to other marginalised groups. This creates the potential for “us versus them” narratives and the ugly scenes on the streets of Dublin on November 23rd.
The several large development projects proposed for the Liberties over the coming years, as well as funding opportunities available to Dublin City Council, such as the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, offer the opportunity for the development of significant community resources that can provide the basis for a resilient, sustainable and inclusive Liberties of the future.
A number of strong community development and voluntary organisations operating in the Liberties area offer a potential conduit for statutory agencies to consult the local community regarding development projects, in addition to offering a vehicle through which to ultimately deliver resources beneficial to the local community.
Sustainable development in the Liberties ultimately requires State bodies to be enthusiastic, proactive and open to adopting a logical approach to development based on readily available data and statistics. It also requires statutory bodies to collaborate with one another to develop a multifactorial understanding of the causes of social outcomes rather than simply focusing on their symptoms in order to gain short-term political wins.
Not taking advantage of the considerable opportunity offered by significant development projects proposed to commence in coming years would represent a further avoidable injustice to the community of the Liberties –the best community in Dublin – in addition to the avoidable cost to the city and country more widely of paying to treat the symptoms of an abandoned community. – Yours, etc,
South Inner City