Enda Kenny: 'Children have to grow up with garda checkpoints and searches - this proud community is angry'
Published 22/09/2016 | 11:57
This is my first public update of the Ministerial Taskforce I established to regenerate the north-east inner city. I'm privileged to be working with the local community and appreciate their warmth and kindness when we meet.
Every time we meet in person or update each other on our plans, I make sure to listen carefully to what the people in the inner city are saying.
They tell me they're tired. Tired of being ignored. Tired of having work done for them, not with them.
Tired of how too much of the bad in their community is reported, while too much of the good is ignored. Tired of being handed a plaster with the message 'you'll be grand', when what they need is surgery.
What they want and need is a long-term plan. Not a solution for today, but strategy for 10 years from now.
They tell me they are angry. Angry that they sometimes have to live their lives in a headline. Angry that the presented "public" face of the north-east inner city bears no connection to the decent private reality lived by its people.
They are angry that one of the oldest and proudest communities in the capital is being held hostage by a new and vicious greed, a level of thuggery and violence that is hard to rival.
They are angry that a generation of children are growing up in circumstances where checkpoints and searches are necessary.
They are angry that those same circumstances are robbing their children and grandchildren of their sense of security, peace of mind, and above all, their dignity as individuals. I know - as they do - that these children have both the need and the right to dream.
Through the Ministerial Taskforce, we are moving to do all we can to eradicate the threat, to work with the community and its leaders to create the kind of life that will bring security, prosperity, pride and opportunity to everyone across the age groups and across the area.
When the Taskforce met last Thursday, Kieran Mulvey updated us on progress being made and the meetings he has had with the community.
He remains on track to report in November with long-term measures to ensure and maintain regeneration.
We will use the findings as a template to respond to similar challenges in communities in other parts of the country.
This Taskforce is coming up with the plans that will make the future safer and more secure for all our people - both nationally and in the north inner city.
We've enacted tougher laws on drugs and the proceeds of crime which strengthen the hand of An Garda Siochana. Additional garda recruitment will mean a greater presence, and a new National Drugs Strategy is in train.
Locally, the refurbishment of Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station and supports for drugs projects will provide short-term progress and assurance of our longer-term commitment.
The future must be not just safe but exciting for the young people proud to call the area home.
Funding has been allocated to the Brighter Futures Initiative for new sporting facilities and for more local employment opportunities which will be of short and long-term benefit.
Working closely with Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe and Cllr Ray McAdam, the Taskforce has been clear - the experts here are the community themselves.
The local people know what is needed to make life better in their area. Together we must get the mix and the balance right.
Because what works for today's problems might be all wrong for tomorrow's. But equally, if we don't address the minor problems now, we're guaranteeing trouble in the future. That's why we are focused on the long-term vision.
Yes, it's early days for the Taskforce. But we've made a start.
I've made personal connection with and commitment to the people of the north-east inner city. I'm looking forward to my next visit so we can discuss both the progress made and what we do next.