Government taskforce on the way to tackle problems in North Inner City Dublin

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Councillors from the area met the Taoiseach yesterday to discuss the terms of reference of the taskforce.

A brainstorming session will be held next Wednesday with community representatives to set out short and long term strategies for the area.

Independent Councillor Niall Ring says the meeting was very productive:

“The Taoiseach just asked what we felt were the issues, what we felt were the possible solutions and what we wanted the government and in particular his department to do for Dublin’s North Inner City in terms of short, long, and medium-term strategy.”

Public Expenditure Minister Pascal Donohue said development in the nearby Docklands and related economic activity will benefit the north inner city.

He also said a broad outline of the plan to help the communities is expected to be ready before the Dáil finishes for the summer and ministers go on their holidays.

Speaking after the two hour session between Mr Kenny and local TD’s and Councillors, Mr Donohoe shared his hopes for the area’s future.

“We are going to have more economic activity than the north inner city has seen for many many years, the strategic development zone in the Docklands, the large construction works that are due to begin later on in the year at the top of Sheriff Street.”

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said it could take “a generation” to help communities and resolve some of the problems.

She also said it needed to be clarified if the taskforce would be set up on a statutory footing or not.

Labour’s Joe Costello has called for jobs in the nearby business district to be ringfenced for local communities, including in the construction sector.

Councillors in general spoke positively about the meeting while also making it clear that the time for talking was over.

Social Democrats councillor Gary Gannon said Mr Kenny pledged several times during the meeting that this was “not a gimmick” and that he wanted a real plan put together.

Councillors also welcomed the fact that the taskforce would be community-led as opposed to just being controlled by the Government.

It will be chaired by junior housing minister Damien English and will also involve input from several departments, including health and environment.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that the inner city area economically had suffered for many years.

The Tánaiste also said that communities had been devastated by the recent murders but that a heavy policing presence was still necessary to try and stop any more bloodshed.

Speaking after the meeting, Workers’ party councillor Éilís Ryan proposed that a ‘Docklands tax’ be levied on large businesses in the area and IFSC, with the revenue going to fund public investment in local jobs.