Monday, 10 September 2007

Limerick planning and regeneration

ON the first anniversary of a firebomb attack in Limerick, which left a young brother and sister badly injured, two regeneration agencies set up in the wake of the horrific incident will open their doors for the first time today.

Millie Murray, 6, and her brother Gavin, 4, sustained extensive burn injuries when a firebomb was thrown into the car in which they were sitting in Moyross in September 2006. Two 17-year-olds later pleaded guilty to their role in the arson attack.

The incident caused uproar nationwide and as a result the Government commissioned former Dublin city manager John Fitzgerald to report on how to tackle the economic and social problems in Moyross.

Mr Fitzgerald recommended that two separate regeneration agencies be set up in the northside and southside of Limerick to drive social and economic regeneration and that 100 extra gardaí be recruited to tackle crime.

The two state regeneration agencies were set up in Moyross and Southill in June with Mr Fitzgerald as joint chairman and former Dublin city manager Brendan Kenny as chief executive of both agencies. Over the summer, 14 full-time staff were recruited and today they open for business.

“We have no grand master plans, we want to develop them in a bottom-up consultation approach with the local communities in Southill and Moyross,” said Mr Kenny.

Regeneration committees will be set up in both areas with representatives from the local residents, all the community groups, public representatives and representatives from relevant state agencies.

“We will ask them for ideas on what kind of community they want to live in 10 years from now and what kind of a life they want for their children in the future,” said Mr Kenny.

He said no surprises would be imposed on the people of Moyross or Southill.

“We will not bring in highly paid professional consultants to produce a master plan — we want this to be produced from the bottom up.

“We want to get a vision of how the people who have been through this mess want their areas to develop,” said Mr Kenny.

It is hoped that the Vision for the Future for both areas will be produced by Christmas. This will be given to consultants to produce master plans for physical, social and economic regeneration by June 2008.

Among the measures being considered is demolition, something which Mr Kenny said he favoured for both areas. “We will ask the people what they think of that — everyone will get a modern state-of-the-art home,” he added.

“The private purchase of houses will be encouraged — we want a better mix of houses with dozens of smaller estates with shops and facilities around them.”

He said they would have costed master plans by June 2008 and they hoped to have the first houses built by June 2009.

Irish Examiner

1 comment:

Cathal McCarthy said...

Contrary to what is widely believed, the Fitzgerald Report does not simply recommend that, “100 extra Gardaí be recruited to tackle crime”

The introduction of the Fitzgerald Report clearly states that there are three strands to dealing with the problems in our troubled estates, which must be progressed together:
·“Dealing with the issue of criminality. This will be fundamental to creating the conditions for other interventions to be successful, and for restoring the confidence of local communities”
·“Economic and infrastructural regeneration, to create employment, unlock value, improve access, and create a better commercial and housing mix.”
·“Developing co-ordinated responses to social and educational problems, in order to break the cycle of disadvantage.”

The first recommendation of the Fitzgerald Report is to "Put in place intensive policing arrangements:...there needs to be a highly visible Garda presence at all times in these estates in order to restore confidence and stability in the communities. A policing structure, headed by a Superintendent, should be established that is exclusively dedicated to the policing of these areas. This will involve a minimum of 100 additional Gardaí, with appropriate management structures, whose sole function will be the policing of these areas."

Since the publication of the Fitzgerald Report in April, 80 new Gardaí have been assigned to the Limerick region, a further 17 are expected in November, bringing the “total” up to 97. However, these Gardaí are not being deployed as recommended and there is not “a highly visible Garda presence at all times in these estates…headed by a Superintendent… dedicated to the policing of these areas. This will involve a minimum of 100 additional Gardaí… whose sole function will be the policing of these areas."

The recent murder of Patrick Coleman, around the corner from the offices of the Southside Regeneration Agency in Southill, is testament to the lack of “a highly visible Garda presence at all times”. Mr. Coleman was attacked by a gang of youths at 10pm as he returned home from an evening socialising. He made his way home but later died from injuries sustained in the attack. It is highly unlikely that gangs of youths would be able to roam around estates looking for trouble if there was “a highly visible Garda presence at all times”.

The purpose of this first recommendation is “to restore confidence and stability in the communities “.In the absence of promised protection from the state, intimidation, violence and fear will prevail. Recent calls for people in Southill not to vacate their homes and to have faith and trust in the Southside Regeneration Agency seem disingenuous.

One can only conclude that people are being encouraged to vacate their homes because if people felt safe and secure to begin with they might be less inclined to have their homes demolished. To date there has been no real effort “to restore confidence and stability in the communities “, which begs the question: Is this supposed regeneration little more than a land clearance exercise, paving the way for developers by allowing what is left of these communities to endure ongoing criminal and anti-social behaviour?