Saturday 22 October 2016

Task force scathing of funding cuts in areas devastated by gang killings

Robin Schiller

Published 19/10/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives for a meeting with North Inner City residents earlier this year. Photo: Tony Gavin
Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives for a meeting with North Inner City residents earlier this year. Photo: Tony Gavin

Serious concerns have been raised about open drug dealing and health issues in a draft report for a task force headed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

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The North-Inner City Task Force was launched by the Taoiseach earlier this year in response to a number of issues in the area that has been devastated by gangland killings.

A draft report to the body's chair Kieran Mulvey was discussed by members last night.

The former Workplace Relations Commission chairman will now consider its findings before a final report is prepared by the end of November outlining a 10-year vision for the inner-city.

Key recommendations were made around the issues of health, education and arts as well as crime and policing in the north-east inner city, which is home to 41,440 people.

Of this there are 20,986 males and 20,454 females, while 15pc of the population live in what is classed as disadvantaged or very disadvantaged areas.

Almost half of parents in the area are lone parents, with the rate of single parents in a very disadvantaged area at 96pc.

The area has also had four gangland-related murders this year, and concerns were raised in the report about open drug dealing in certain flat complexes.

It has been recommended that a Garda Community Unit with gardai specifically trained to work in the North East Inner City be established to work with community structures and residents.

The report criticised measures introduced by the previous Fianna Fáil and current Fine Gael-led governments for reducing funding to the area following the economic recession in 2008.

Of local community projects surveyed in the area, 100pc noticed an impact on staffing levels, while almost 82pc reported a change in services offered.

In terms of health, it has been recommended that suicide intervention and crisis intervention services be made accessible.

These should be made available on a 24/7 basis for target and vulnerable groups.

In terms of Art and Heritage, it is hoped that a home can be found for the Inner City Folklore Project, which is required as a matter of urgency.

The draft report also recommended it be ensured that every child has access to an after-school place and an increase in childcare places for under 2s, which have dropped significantly in recent years.

A total of €1.6m has already been earmarked for Dublin's north inner city in an attempt to solve the difficulties of drugs and gang-related violence facing the area.

The key objective of the task force is to develop and implement a comprehensive social, economic and environmental programme for the area.

It is hoped that this will target and break the cycle of social exclusion and intergenerational poverty, unemployment, addiction, criminality, poor health and educational outcomes experienced by many families living in the community, according to the report.

Irish Independent

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