Friday 2 December 2016

Children must not live 'in shadow of a gun'

Published 29/07/2016 | 02:30

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone plays football with boys
from the Sheriff Youth Club in Dublin. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone plays football with boys from the Sheriff Youth Club in Dublin. Photo: Colin O’Riordan

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone has said the future of communities in Dublin's north inner city "will not be decided in the shadow of a gun".

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The minister wants input from young people to be fed into the new taskforce set up to try overcome many of the social problems that have blighted the area for generations.

More than 300 children will take part in a 'Brighter Futures Initiative', which is based on a model used in troubled parts of South Africa.

Ms Zappone visited St Mary's Youth Club in East Wall and a soccer tournament in Sheriff Street yesterday to speak with some of the young people affected by the gang violence of recent weeks.

The Hutch/Kinahan feud has so far claimed seven lives.

The minister said the plan was to allow young people "identify what has worked well for them in the community, what have been some of the real difficulties and problems, and what are their hopes in order to make this community not only safe but one of the best places to grow up in".

However, Ms Zappone said that the initiatives in place were already facing serious obstacles.

"It's been very difficult for them. One of the things that really distresses me is that in some of the summer programmes the parents have been afraid to let their children go into some of the programmes because of what's been going on," she said.

"In fact, the numbers are reducing in terms of what we're trying to put on offer so that they can continue to try to live normal lives.

"I hope that the emphasis that the Taoiseach, along with many other ministers, is placing will change the dynamic that's going on here and make it a much more hopeful place to live in."

Ms Zappone said the 'Restorative Practice' model now being adopted was internationally recognised.

It will involve a range of organisations and sectors including schools, youth services, workplaces, communities and families. In total €100,000 has been set aside to train adults, set up after-school supports and develop group projects.

It is expected that a final report on what young people in the area want will be delivered within 16 weeks.

Irish Independent

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