Thursday 22 May 2008

'I feel defeated,' says resident of flats

Two people who live in O'Devaney Gardens tell how everyone has now 'lost heart'

THE NEWS that the long-awaited regeneration of O'Devaney Gardens was not going ahead - in the short term at least - was "like a death in the family", said local resident and development worker Lena Jordan.

"People are so low; so absolutely devastated.

"There have been 10 years of working on the plan and meetings and getting people to agree on things and now, well, people just don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. I feel defeated."

Yesterday morning saw two residents in the Dublin north side complex, Janice Flood and Bernice Keane, describe how everyone had "lost heart now".

Standing at the foot of one of the 13 blocks of flats on the 12.2-acre site, Ms Flood said residents had been told work would begin in February.

"Then they said June. There has been nothing done with the place for years. There's no playground for the kids. Nowhere for the teenagers to go."

The two stand near a grass clearing strewn with brown shards of glass, chocolate wrappers and rusting bottle caps.

As they describe life in the flat complex one can look up at empty, boarded-up flats, graffiti-covered windows, walls, doorways and stairwells, broken windows and litter everywhere.

No one lives in four of the blocks in preparation for their demolition, while others are almost empty.

"It's horrible living here - like Beirut," continues Ms Flood.

"It's wrong, the next generation having to live like this," she says, gesturing at two sons of a neighbour aged three and four. "They can't be let out for fresh air at all. They'd just get filthy."

No one knows what will happen now, said Ms Keane.

"We didn't even hear it until we read it in the paper this morning."

Martina Daly, another resident, says she was "furious".

"How can they let someone sign a contract and then let them leave us swinging in limbo.

"You can't leave people like that; string them along with hope and then leave them."

From the cramped balcony of her third floor flat, Ms Keane looks out towards the Phoenix Park and the Dublin mountains.

"Look at that view. It's beautiful. This used to be a gorgeous place to live.

"I've lived here all my life. Can't wait to get out now."

The Irish Times

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