Taoiseach Enda Kenny has denied it took a series of brutal gangland murders for his Government to address long-term problems in Dublin’s north inner city, as he launched a high-profile campaign for the area.
The Fine Gael leader insisted the killings were not the reason behind his announcement of detailed multimillion-euro plans to help rejuvenate communities living in the area as part of a 10-year initiative to tackle a chronic lack of supports for people in need.
Under long-awaited plans for Dublin’s north inner city, a new ministerial taskforce led by Mr Kenny has been set up to examine ways to address long-term social, educational and criminal problems in the capital’s city centre.
The moves include immediate measures for this year such as an extra €1m investment in sports facilities; €500,000 for the removal of graffiti and improvement of derelict sites; €100,000 more for drug-related services; and the re-opening of Fitzgibbon St Garda Station.
In addition, former Labour Relations Commission chief Kieran Mulvey has been asked to draw up a report by this November for the ministerial group outlining targets for the next decade including those focussed on education, drugs strategies, early intervention programmes for children at risk of falling into gangs; and better local employment opportunities.
Speaking at the launch of the plan at the St Laurence O Toole boys’ school in Seville Place after a lengthy meeting with local groups, Mr Kenny insisted the plans are needed to help improve the lives of local communities.
However, despite the fact the long-overdue measures for a repeatedly ignored part of the capital just yards from the multibillion-euro IFSC only occurred after a spate of gangland murders, Mr Kenny insisted the deaths are not the reason for the moves.
“You had seven murders here due to criminal activities between gangs. Obviously I met with the minister for justice and the Garda commissioner [about the murders], and they requested that a specific armed taskforce be set up to deal with that.
“In setting up that it became obvious there should be a parallel development for the community here. It’s not that the community wasn’t having community support to a certain extent,” he insisted.
Mr Kenny had earlier rejected suggestions he should accept responsibility for allowing funding for Dublin’s north inner city to “run dry” with a 38% cut to Pobal services in the area in recent years.
He said the responsibility he has was for “having to make some of the most difficult decisions of the past 15 years” because of Ireland’s economic collapse.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has called for cross-party agreement on the long-term plans set to be outlined by Kieran Mulvey’s report in November.
Mirroring comments made by local Labour politician and former TD Joe Costello and current local Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald that the plan must not be limited to a particular government, he said Mr Mulvey will provide “an objective analysis and will engage with all public representatives in terms of what can be achieved over the next 10 years”.
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