Our Town Update

our town meeting4

Members of the Ringsend/Irishtown Our Town Committees reconvened on a rainy Thursday evening, on the 16th of October, for a state-of-play meeting.

In July of this year, as reported in NewsFour, a large meeting was convened to determine local concerns and develop strategies in response to them. Our Town is a bootstrapping initiative, where representatives of the community come together as a whole to address problems and needs that may have originated with the economic downturn, or may be more long-standing in nature.

This most recent meeting took place in the Spellman Centre. Fewer were in attendance than the July meeting, so the opportunity for a full recap of the previous meeting and its outcome was difficult. Previously, set topics had been established as general areas of concern and small committees formed as action groups to address these areas, specifically Education, Social Exclusion, Sport, Work, Physical Regeneration and Communications.

Although the intention was to fully review the previous meeting’s minutes and determine what progress had been made since July, the lower attendance (a consequence of the timing of this October meeting) and the limited time available meant the meeting instead became a more informal discussion.

The discussion ranged around the limits of the broad approach that had been adopted. The need for more definite facts and hard data on, for example, the number of school leavers from the local area who enter third-level education, or the exact membership and attendance of sports clubs was tabled, as a basis for goal-oriented action, rather than talking in circles. However, it was also argued that statistics are easy enough to manipulate and that discovering short-term achievable goals was maybe a greater priority.

Signs of progress across all groups was slow, although the Social Inclusion and Work Committees had made positive advances. The scale of the overall task is becoming apparent to all involved, and in a sense, this October meeting was a reminder of that, and the need for realistic strategies. There is a shared acknowledgement of the long-term time frame of the whole project, an important step of which will be the establishment of a Community Convention (also discussed in the Our Town and Someone Else’s special report, published on newsfour.ie in June).

Keep an eye on newsfour.ie for notifications of further meetings, and consider offering your help to the Our Town Project Ringsend/Irishtown.

By Rúairí Conneely