Ballymun revival funding may be delayed

WORK on reinventing one of the country’s most notoriously disadvantaged areas may grind to a halt over spending cuts.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said that he could not reassure anyone that money would be available to complete the regeneration of Ballymun in north Dublin.

More than €800 million from the public purse has already been poured into pulling down the infamous flats, which became symbols of social deprivation and drug abuse, and rehousing residents in new developments.

Another €200m is needed to complete the masterplan, including the demolition of 13 blocks of flats still standing.

Launching a massive CCTV surveillance system to combat crime in the area, Mr Ahern said he could not guarantee more funding will be available.

“Obviously in more straitened economic times, something has got to give and we just have to prioritise issues,” he said.

Mr Ahern insisted it was incumbent on the nation to finish what it had startedin Ballymun, saying it should be a priority, but he suggested it may take longerthan expected.

The Department of the Environment also cast doubt over plans to finish the regeneration by 2014.

“We can’t guarantee it at the moment because we have to see what comes out of the estimates process for the next three years,” said a spokesman.

More than 240 new homes are being built, with demolition of another three blocks of flats set to begin within weeks. Another three are to be pulled down in the new year, with the remaining blocks, including the 15-storey Plunkett Tower, earmarked for demolition over the following three years.

Eamon Farrelly of Ballymun Regeneration said he had been reassured by Department of the Environment officials within the last three weeks that the money was there to complete the masterplan.

Mr Ahern said the 82 individually-controlled CCTV cameras now trained on the streets of Ballymun as part of a regeneration strategy will help residents live without fear of crime.

Garda Assistant Commissioner Mick Feehan said there has been a 7% drop in crime in Ballymun since the start of the year.


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