Wednesday, 11 July 2018
Dublin (North Inner City) Development Authority Bill 2018: First Stage
That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to make provision for the regeneration of the area of Dublin's north inner city and for that purpose to provide for the establishment of a body to be known as the Dublin Inner City Development Authority to oversee said regeneration, to define the functions of said body and to provide for related matters.
I wish to acknowledge the commitment and time that iar-Thaoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, invested in the north inner city area of Dublin since a gang war erupted in the area in mid 2016. Dublin north inner city belongs to the local community but it is also part of the cultural narrative of Ireland as a whole. This Bill is to demonstrate a long-term commitment to Dublin north inner city, so the Bill goes beyond transient political interests in the heart of our capital city.
Dublin north inner city has enormous cultural and historical riches and potential, but it remains plagued with dereliction and the social fabric of the area continues to decline and degenerate. If passed, this Bill will demonstrate the commitment of the State to a lasting commitment to a community in our capital city as opposed to particular individuals. When the gangland feud erupted two years ago, the Government committed to regenerating the north inner city and on foot of that commitment it established the north inner city task force under Mr. Kieran Mulvey. We welcomed that at the time.
Its essential weakness, however, was that it had no statutory footing. There is no guarantee that commitment made two years ago will endure, that the interest will last or it will transcend public relations exercises. We have a strong conviction on this side of the House that there has to be a long-term commitment, ten years in the case of this Bill, by the State. Like my party leader, Deputy Micheál Martin, I met with the north inner city coalition groups. They have been working for decades and would benefit greatly from the support of a statutory body or agency as opposed to a passing fad or phase of interest.
North inner city communities agree that what they need is an agency to help them tackle the root cause of poverty and the inability of young people to advance and achieve their true potential. Some of them succumb, despite their own best efforts and the efforts of the many amazingly supportive community groups and services, to the tantalising allure of the diversion and distraction of drugs and crime. To those suspicious of the timing of this Bill, I point out that at the time the gangland feuds were at their peak and responses were being formulated, my party colleague in the area, Ms Mary Fitzpatrick, in a written submission in 2016, suggested such a statutory body to act as a catalyst and reliable long-term bulwark for efforts in the north inner city to ensure long-term commitment and to have real powers and authority to guarantee that what needs to happen would actually happen.
There are enormous areas of potential within this historic part of contemporary Dublin and the authority proposed in this Bill, if enacted, would guarantee that every effort would be made to maximise and develop the full potential of the community. My party has a strong record of facilitating such regeneration in the heart of our capital. The Grangegorman campus for example, once a 70 acre piece of derelict inner city Dublin, has been utterly transformed under the powers of an authority into a high technology university campus in the heart of the capital. It has been done before. In introducing this Bill though, I am mindful that Dublin north inner city is not an isolated example of where regeneration and support is badly needed. Parts of my constituency and neighbouring constituencies have been truly ignored by this and the previous Government: it is almost like they do not exist.
The publication, for example, in January of this year of the investment of RAPID programme monies bears testimony to this. In 2017, the total funding allocation for RAPID was €5 million. From that, each of 31 local authorities received an allocation of €64,500 but €2.5 million was ringfenced for Dublin's north inner city. The budget available in 2018 has shrunk to €2 million. The Government is storing up trouble ahead in these areas of disadvantage. The challenges facing Dublin's north inner city are not isolated and it is its historical and cultural setting that sets it apart. Real measures, however, are needed now. What I am proposing will be needed to tackle the challenges facing communities in Jobstown, Killinarden and parts of north Clondalkin, represented by my colleague, Deputy John Curran. I invite colleagues to read the Bill, to engage positively and constructively in it as it comes, if it comes, and progresses before the House.