Ringsend Community Services Forum recently hosted a question and answer session with local politicians. The chance for the public to meet and put their questions to their local representatives was held in Ringsend College on March 2nd.
The agenda detailed a number of issues. Firstly, explaining the process electing community members to the new Docklands Board. There will be 22 members on the committee, of which four will be councillors.
Cllr. Claire Byrne of the Green Party explained that there was an attempt to appoint someone from the community of Ringsend to the committee, yet there was no agreement about who it should be. Members of the community who attended the meeting expressed their frustration with this.
The next issue involved clarity about employment in the Poolbeg incinerator, and whether there were any full-time jobs for local people. It was stated that there will be 100 jobs in the incinerator, according to Fine Gael councillor Paddy McCartan. There are a certain number of administrative roles, which were filled through the community. However, the vast majority of the jobs are too specialised to be filled locally, according to Labour Senator Kevin Humphries.
Access to the river also arose, especially regarding whether there would be watersports and boating activities for locals. The designation of the Docklands and IGB site as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) has raised concerns about access to the river in terms of maritime and community usage.
Labour councillor Dermot Lacey stated that he was on the Docklands Oversight and Consultative Forum and would put this issue forward at its next meeting. Most of the councillors gathered agreed that it was an important amenity, however they were not forthcoming with solutions to this issue.
Regarding the issue of housing in Ringsend, Cllr. Dermot Lacey reiterated his commitment to 30% social housing on the IGB development.
He also stated that he had always supported homeless services.
Many of the other councillors such as Cllr. Paddy McCartan also expressed their commitment to more than the 10% formally proposed in the plans. Councillor Claire Byrne and leader of the Green party, Eamon Ryan TD, stated they would be arguing for one-third social housing, one-third private housing and one-third affordable housing. Sen Kevin Humphries as well as Cllr. Chris Andrews from Sinn Féin praised the Housing Action Group for their commitment with Kevin Humphries praising their professionalism and thoroughness.
Increased anti-social behaviour in park and pubs as well as the drugs crisis were the final issue of the question and answer session. Cllr Mannix Flynn argued it was primarily due to “bad estate management,” whether in Ringsend or anywhere else, a point pertaining to a lack of services. He argued passionately that legalising drugs or the current practice of having safe injection centres was not a solution as these people were leaving the centres and going on to the street. He felt there was a need for private security firms to patrol neighbourhoods as the gardaí were over-stretched.
Sen Humphries felt that community projects where they “worked on each individual place” through the former organisation of the Small Groups Park’s Committee was very effective and was making progress in dealing with drug use in the park before it was shut down.
The next RCSF organised meeting with local politicians will probably occur in September this year.
By Kevin Mac Sharry