The Real Word On The Street



From top: Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Public Expenditure  Paschal Donohoe in Dublin’s North East Inner City last monthl to meet with local community leaders; Gary Gannon

If Enda Kenny is serious about confronting the challenges of Dublin’s Inner City then he should  put an end to the falsity that the Inner City is an exceptional case.

Gary Gannon writes:

Just a little over two weeks ago the Taoiseach announced that 1.6 million would be invested into Dublin’s North Inner City as a consequence of the fact that in the months previous to this announcement, seven men had been killed on the streets of our nation’s capital in an increasingly violent feud between an international drug cartel and a local criminal outfit.

I should be happy.

The commitment of 1.6 million into a community that has throughout the last several decades witnessed considerable economic deprivation will undoubtedly have positive ramifications.

At least that’s the hope anyway but the recent history of the North Inner City has proven that this may not in fact be the case.

It is important to state that I do in no way doubt the earnest intent with which Enda Kenny has sought to implement this Inner City Taskforce.

I have personally attended three meetings with the Taoiseach on the subject and watched with great interest as a multitude of different community groups and interested parties detailed to him the many, primarily budgetary afflictions which have served to impede their work on a daily basis.

While the Taoiseach appeared more than willing to listen he seemed woefully ignorant to the fact that this is not the first time in recent history that the more dramatic manifestations of poverty in the Inner City have culminated in the State promising to readdress decades long indifference with the promise of a large pay-off for all those who had the confidence to pick up a microphone during the tumultuous periods.

The State appears to find a conscience in regards the affairs of the North Inner City once every decade and without question the greatest example of this can be found in the Gregory Deal of February 1982.

That many of the terms agreed between Charles Haughey and the late Independent TD Tony Gregory never actually materialised appear to have done little to hamper the fact that this special agreement for targeted financial investment into the Inner City area has long since furrowed its path into the annals of Irish political folklore.

It is less well documented but the most intense period of sustained investment into the community infrastructure of the Inner City was in the period after the murder of Veronica Guerin.

It was in 1996 that the fourth pillar of Social Partnership was added in the form of ‘The Community and Voluntary’ sector which may very well have been pushed into the North Inner City inside a large wooden horse.

It essentially resulted in the professionalising of community activism as a State response to the increasingly uncontrollable nature of communities who were self organising and mobilising against not only drug dealers but also against the apparatuses of State who were once again accused of neglecting the most marginalised.

The incorporation of the Community & Voluntary sector was an admission by the State that gang violence had gone beyond their control. The murder of a well respected journalist was a grotesque illustration that the violence was no longer confined to the flat complexes of the Inner City.

‘Tough on Crime, tough on the causes of crime’ was to become the mantra of Tony Blair’s New Labour which were swept into power in Britain in 1997 and this was not a markedly dissimilar approach to what was attempted here in the aftermath of this tragedy.

The Criminal Asset Bureau was established in the final year of the Rainbow Coalition but in the Inner City there also emerged a number of well intentioned community organisations that are still in existence today.

The Inner City Organisation’s Network (ICON), the North Inner City Drug’s Task Force and The Inner City Community Policing Forum are just some of the organisations that evolved from the street protests of the mid-nineties.

Social Partnership and the proliferation of community organisations charged with confronting the challenges of poverty have proven ineffective in stemming the tide of rising inequality, addiction and crime.

This is of course not the fault of these organisations whose work over the past two decades has been commendable but if Enda Kenny is actually serious about confronting the challenges of the Inner City then perhaps he should consider putting an end to this falsity that the Inner City is in some manner an exceptional case.

The marginalisation and social exclusions that exist in the North Inner City are replicated elsewhere throughout the State.

It is national policy and the choices that were and are being made by the governments which he has presided over which have created the conditions by which people are willing to kill each-other for control of illegal drug markets.

It was a choice of his government to cut the funding of community development projects nationally by 38%. This was of course we are reminded constantly a consequence of national belt tightening but the cut to community development was far more disproportionate than to any other sector.

As I sat in those rooms with the Taoiseach and the community groups some weeks back I was wondering if he was even aware of the impact that his choices had made not only on this community but on others like it throughout the State.

I appreciate that it was the violent killing of seven men which enamoured in our Taoiseach an earnest desire to intervene but I couldn’t help but wonder whether the Taoiseach was aware that the most recent figures available from the Health Research Board showed that 679 people lost their life to what the HRB termed ‘drug related deaths’.

I digress though. I of course welcome the  investment into the North Inner City but question the manner in which it is being allocated. Poverty is killing people on our streets and this will not stop that from happening.

If Enda Kenny is hoping to pitch his legacy to the development of the North Inner City then I would advise him that there is an actual metric for progression which has never been fully confronted in a meaningful way.

Only 23% of students in the North Inner City progress on to 3rd level university. That figure is one of the lowest in the country and provides a challenge by which radical change can occur in this community.

To make achievements in this regard will require a long-term strategy that must begin with intensive funding of early years initiatives which have an evidence based approach to breaking the cycle of poverty early on in a child’s development.

Of the investment, we are told that over a million euro is going to be spent on sporting facilities throughout the Inner City.

I certainly don’t doubt the importance of this measure but in seeking to provide ‘mini-pitches’ could we also ensure that are schools and centres of second chance education are equipped with the facilities to provide STEAM subjects that are suitable for matriculation into both our Universities and jobs markets as they currently stand.

The issues facing Dublin’s inner city are replicated throughout the State. If there is to be a specific intervention then make it meaningful and not merely concerned with containing rather than eradicating poverty.

Gary Gannon is a Social Democrats Councillor on Dublin City Counicil for Dublin’s North Inner City. Gar’s column appears here every Friday before lunch. Follow Gary on Twitter: @1garygannon

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33 thoughts on “The Real Word On The Street

  1. dav

    Many thanks, a very good article.
    Now strap yerself in as those who will read it as an attack on their precious inda and nothing more, start shooting the messenger.

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      Ah, “Social Partnership” my absolute favourite phrase – following quickly by “Community & Voluntary” sector (directed by Government). Social Partnership essentially meant – more pay and perks for civil servants; no protest over wages, conditions, or unfair taxation in the private sector (guaranteed by the Union Fat Cats) and the illusion that us toilers in the field were respected and considered by our Government – WHAT A CROCK. The Community & Voluntary sector was civil service-ized – a recipe which ensured loads of meetings, loads of ‘discussion and consultation’, but a sharp reduction in activism – which is just what Government of any stripe in this country desires most of all. Faugggghh, I’m so sick of the appearance of change whilst the status quo continues to be preserved. “First kill all the lawyers” should in fact be replaced by “First kill all the PR people and the quangoists”. The lawyers can wait for another day.

  2. Observer

    increasingly violent feud between an international drug cartel and a local criminal outfit.

    Ordinary decent criminals versus bad criminals.

    Given that a ‘progressive’ local councillor is framing the dispute in this fashion, is it any wonder that the area is so deprived?

    1. Observer

      Given Councillor Gannon is framing the dispute this way, it is probably worth remembering that the local criminal gang did this:

      Lest anyone be confused, the local criminal gang were not some collection of Robin Hoods robbing bakeries to feed the poor or anything. They are a bunch of violent criminals, that have links to other violent criminals including friends from the republican community who are also suitably violent.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          +1 Nobody else will have read “local criminal” as “ordinary decent criminals”.

    2. ahjayzis

      Sorry, but you’re reading something into that sentence that isn’t there. “Local criminal outfit” isn’t a term of endearment.

  3. Tish Mahorey

    Fine Gael only want nice communities for the wealthy areas of our towns and cities.

    The lower classes must be oppressed and kept in a constant state of helplessness and desperation so they can be used and abused by the political, professional and financial classes. They are the donkeys for use by the wealthy.

  4. louis lefronde

    Interesting read. The only way to hamper large criminal gangs is to take away the main source of their revenue by legally regulating the drugs which have enabled them to prosper. The North Inner City is a desperate place, that could easily be regenerated and gentrified.

    1. martco

      gentrification indeed
      all this posturing got anything to do with fact IFSC in the middle of it all I wonder :)

      1. Louis Lefronde

        Nothing wrong with gentrification, it improves places that have been neglected and run down for years.

    2. Tish Mahorey

      “and gentrified.”


      Yeah let’s move all the sports top wearing local scum out to Ronanstown and move the digital industry hipsters in instead. Let’s pretend council houses are shabby chic to convince ourselves they are cool.

      Redecorate all the local chippers with metro tiles and industrial lighting. Stick wooden benches outside with twee crap that makes everything safe looking and cutesy.

      Everyone wearing glasses with large frames, all on their phones but not ACTUALLY communicating with their neighbours apart from a block party once a year with an airstream caravan and hired in ice cream van which you wouldn’t be seen dead going to during the year otherwise.

      Lets….. gentrify!

      1. Sham Bob

        Hmm, you saying Louis LeFronde has been yanking our chain the whole time? That he wouldn’t actually name his kids Ayn and Rand if he got the chance?

  5. Jake38

    Some good points here.
    A paltry 1.6 million is not going to reverse generations of family breakdown, lack of education, welfare dependency, alcoholism, domestic violence, drug addiction, single parenthood, unemployment and the collapse of social capital.

  6. rotide

    What the hell is with the editorial policy here?

    This isn’t a terrible article but framing it with “If Enda Kenny is serious about confronting the challenges of Dublin’s Inner City then he should put an end to the falsity that the Inner City is an exceptional case” and then talking about nowhere else but Dublin’s north inner city and treating it as an exceptional case is schoolboy stuff.

    Gary, three times you mention that the inner city isn’t an isolated case and you don’t actually mention a single other area.

        1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

          Rotide is editor spelled backwards. Well I never.
          You learn something new every day, especially when you’re thick as pigpoo.

  7. Peter Dempsey

    So in summary. Local criminals are the salt of the earth. Working class = good. Middle class = bad.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      No that’s not a summary or even close to what he meant. Baffling how you could interpret it that way.

    2. Tish Mahorey

      No. That’s not it at all. Plenty of middle class live in that area too by the way.

    3. Andy

      I didn’t get that from the article and I’m a flaming blue shirt shill troll brown noser.

  8. Fact Checker

    Many years ago I volunteered at a project in Dublin’s north inner city. The project was for all but was disproportionately accessed by locals. Who indeed had the most need for it. The project was essentially 100% state-funded.

    It was all very earnest and well meaning. But looking back now I am not sure if it made much impact.

    For the paid employees the inputs were essentially the product. There was not (from what I could tell) any internal or external process for MEASURING the impact of what was being done on the users.

    The paid staff got into the habit of treating us as casually as the users, who had a lackadaisical attitude to the service. Us volunteers valued our time a little higher and eventually most of us drifted off.

    I am sure some users got something out of it. But at quite a high cost. And from what I can tell a lot of the project’s purpose was so that the state could be seen to be “doing something”.

    1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

      @Fact Checker
      The nicest response I can give you is this;

      – Maybe you volunteered for the wrong thing. You shouldn’t associate with those horrible ‘users’. There’s other stuff you can put on your CV, ammirite?

      Be a martyr.
      Tell people.

  9. Nilbert

    what is this? an actually well-considered, well-informed, non-hysterical article on a highly emotive topic?
    With sensible ideas and reasoned proposals?

    this will not go down well here…

    1. 15 cents

      This guy’s great.. and refreshing for Irish politics, he has knowledge on what’s happening in the country, and an actual genuine desire to deal with it. But instead we get Kenny, ill-informed, and only at this to show “im doing something” but will in fact not do anything. His response to this, building more football pitches .. pathetic. shows no understanding of the situation at all. You’d never hear that kind of knowledge on a subject coming from kenny, nor would it be worded so well. Get himself and Gary to swop jobs. Like wife swop, but we won’t change them back,

  10. Tish Mahorey

    White collar crime reduces tax income and feeds corruption and encourages other criminals to excuse their own crimes because they see other criminals getting away it with help from the state.

    1. Louis Lefronde

      I have to agree with you on that, there are criminals on both ends of the spectrum

Comments are closed.

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