I welcome the Taoiseach’s proposal to establish a Government Task Force for Dublin’s North Inner City and I am delighted to have been nominated by Michéal Martin to represent Fianna Fáil on the taskforce.
The problems and challenges in Dublin’s North Inner City have been well documented and articulated over many years. It is understandable that people living in the area will reserve judgement on the proposed Taskforce until detailed terms of reference, objectives and deliverables are made clear.
The aim of the Taskforce should be to ensure a fully integrated and resourced response to the long term problems of Dublin’s North Inner City. In order for this political initiative to succeed the government must make sure the local community are fully involved as an integral part of Taskforce.
The Taskforce should create a mechanism that allows the local community to work with the State Agencies, NGO groups, and elected political representatives to identify, design, implement and evaluate short, medium and long term responses to the challenges in the North Inner City.
The Taoiseach unveiled Kieran Mulvey as “chair” but he also said he would “chair” the Taskforce and previously said Minister Damien English would “chair” the Taskforce. It would be helpful if the Taoiseach can clarify his proposed structure, terms of reference and how the local community will be engaged in the taskforce as early as possible.
I welcome the Taoiseach’s commitment to re-open Fitzgibbon St Garda Station and I understand work might commence before the end of this year with full re-opening of the station completed over the next couple of years. In the meantime there does not seem to be one extra Garda today in the North Inner City today than there was six months ago. While I welcome the commitment on Fitzgibbon Street Station the Garda manpower needs to be increased sooner rather than later to ensure adequate policing.
The Taoiseach said the Taskforce will report by November 2016. There is a concern that a top down approach will be taken by Government with Kiernan Mulvey assigned to “listen” to the community and compile a government driven report. This would be a mistake. In order for the Taskforce to be successful it is imperative it has full buy-in from the local community, cross party support and multi-annual funding approved in the October Budget.
I look forward to working with the local community, government, non-government agencies and others to develop and implement a plan that will comprehensively address the challenges and realise the opportunities in Dublin’s North Inner City.