Sunday 22 July 2018

WATCH: 'People feel disillusioned and abandoned' - Ballymun locals on the regeneration scheme

Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

THE results of the €1bn regeneration scheme to overhaul Ballymun is under the microscope a new documentary due to air tonight.

The 4th Act has uncovered a wealth of archive material filmed in the north Dublin community since the 1980s and looks at the extensive scheme - which was officially wound up in 2013 - through the eyes of the local community.

Director Turlough Kelly said the results of the regeneration - which saw the tearing down of the iconic Ballymun tower block apartments - has left many in the area feeling “disillusioned" and “abandoned”.

While the residential aspect of the regeneration was complete, local representatives have consistently raised the lack of amenities in the area with Dublin City Council.

Among the sorest points is the deterioration of the local shopping centre - a retail and social hub in the community - which has yet to be replaced with a similar venture.

Many of the business and retail ventures it was hoped would get off the ground in Ballymun did not come to pass due to the economic crash.

One of the most contentious aspects of the documentary according to the team behind it is research relating to the arts and culture wing of Ballymun Regeneration Ltd - the body established to oversee the scheme.

The documentary suggests that the designated 'Percent for Arts Scheme' funding for Ballymun was utilised as part of a public relations plan for the regeneration scheme.

The film includes a research paper carried out at the time by ‘Breaking Ground’, the cultural wing of the regeneration project.

The document states that “in order to attract the private sector into Ballymun, the area must pertain to values of the professional classes”.

It goes on to say that the designated arts funding can achieve this aim through “the education of a social group in line with ruling-class thinking".

Mr Kelly said this shows that “assumptions were made about the type of people living in Ballymun, and the type of people they would have to become”. 

“There was a very definite attempt to undermine and replace the structures of local solidarity that had kept the community afloat through decades of challenges and hardship,” he said.

With the documentary due to air Mr Kelly said he hopes that it will help “arm” local communities undergoing regeneration to focus on keeping their community voice and to ensure that it is heard throughout the process.

“Regeneration projects are ongoing throughout Dublin and Ireland and I can see a lot of the same things happening again,” he said.

“Hopefully it [the documentary] will arm communities it better represents and defend themselves,” he added.

Regeneration, he said, came into Ballymun and “disrupted this community for 20 years... And in the end what resulted it was not adequate to meet people’s needs and people feel quite neglected and abandoned”.

Dublin City Council said it could not comment on the documentary as it had not viewed it.

The 4th Act will air tonight on TV3 at 11pm.

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