Sir, - As one of the organisations mentioned in Mr Frank McDonald's excellent articles on Ballymun, the Ballymun Task Force would totally agree that no better commitment could be made to the next millennium by the Government, than to right the decision to inflict on Dublin, and in particular on those who became its unfortunate residents, the beauty turned beast, known as Ballymun.
We fully support the idea proposed to us by Mr Brendan Howlin, Minister for the Environment, that the entire flats complex be demolished, to be replaced by a new town of mixed build, designed in consultation with the community and always providing such a proposal finds favour with the Ballymun residents. It must be said that there is no indication to date that the mass of the residents would oppose such a scheme on the contrary, it can be said that over the years thousands of tenants have voted with their feet on this issue.
A number of point's in the articles require clarification, however. The articles correctly make the point that both Prionsias de Rossa TD and Roisin Shortall TD, have played a very positive role in promoting the need for renewal of Ballymun, but in all fairness so also have Mary Flaherty TD and Noel Ahern TD. All four constituency TDs are members of the Task Force, and have been very supportive of the community in seeking to right the conditions under which Ballymun residents live.
The most important element in the renewal equation was barely mentioned. I refer, of course, to the Ballymun community itself, and in particular those community activists who struggled for so long to give Ballymun its place in the sun, the people who initiated the Task Force and other organisations dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of the community.
As Ballymun Task Force moves towards its tenth anniversary, the work over those years is now coming to fruition. As advocated in our report of 1988, Dublin Corporation has now appointed a regional officer for the area, who brings with him a full Corporation management team, and work is expected to start this year on the building of a civic building for Ballymun.
Ballymun Task Force is being restructured to become the upper tier of management for the estate, and of the 24 members (including chair and secretary) of this new body, 11 will be community persons. The restructured task force, will also serve as the link between the community and the project management team who will oversee the renewal programme for Ballymun and will address the many housing, social and economic issues needed to move it into the 21st century as a modern, vibrant town.
In relation to the proposal that there be major design competition for the new town of Ballymun, it must firstly be borne in mind that, whatever its failings, it was not Dublin Corporation which imposed the Ballymun flats complex on our people. As the community and Dublin Corporation are embarking on a new road to managing the estate, it would make sense that the methods and structures needed to design the new town should be agreed between the Department of the Environment, Dublin Corporation and the Ballymun community.
It would indeed be a cruel joke on the residents of Ballymun and the city of Dublin, if expediency, dictated by the prospect of a general election, means that the decision on the fate of the area (which we anticipated would be taken in either late 1996 or early 1997) would be put on the back boiler by the Government. - Yours etc.,
Ballymun Task Force 15 Sillogue Road,
Ballymun, Dublin 11.