Councillors, community representatives, members of the North East Inner City Initiative, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
I am delighted to join you all here today at the Hill Street Family Resource Centre.
I would like to thank Chairperson Michael Stone and the North East Inner City Programme Implementation Board for inviting me to launch their 2022 Progress Report.
My colleague Minister Donohoe, who very much wished to join you here today, is unable to attend due to a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels, but I understand he has recorded a message which will be broadcast as part of the launch this morning.
First of all, let me say it is wonderful to see so many people here today in person.
When I launched the 2021 Progress Report last December in Larkin Community College, it was under different circumstances – a time when you could only join us virtually, as we all played our part in adhering to the necessary restrictions required due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the work of the Programme Implementation Board for their work throughout that challenging period, as well as throughout 2022.
This is my second occasion over the past few months to participate in an event here in the North East Inner City.
In July, I was delighted to perform the official reopening of Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station which is the first community policing station of its kind in the country.
The new Station is state-of-the art and is focused on supporting victims of crime and on community engagement. It is a visible representation of today’s adaptive and progressive police force.
As on that day, I encourage the community to utilise the Station’s community wing to build strong and meaningful connections with all members of your community, both new and emerging, as well as with your local Gardaí.
I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge the Local Community Safety Partnership who form an important part of building safety within the community.
The Chair and his team are working with local communities and agencies on issues identified in the area and have established working subgroups focused on Drug Related Street issues; Anti-Social Behaviour; Senior Citizens; and Vulnerable Groups.
The North East Inner City is a key area of our capital city, both geographically and culturally. It is important that we afford the community here the facilities to ensure that this is an area we can all be proud of.
With that in mind, I am delighted to see similar milestone capital projects will be advanced in 2023 and beyond in the area.
I am particularly pleased to see that the North East Inner City Initiative has committed over €2.4 million of funding to advance the redevelopment of the Rutland Street School site.
This is alongside the €16 million provided by Government under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund as part of Project Ireland 2040.
Dublin City Council are progressing the tender process and I look forward to seeing this project coming to fruition in the period ahead.
The former Magdalen Laundry on Sean MacDermott Street is a building of huge historical importance, and last March the Government approved high-level proposals for a National Centre for Research and Remembrance to be located on the site.
This building will stand as a national memorial and will house a museum and exhibition space, as well as a research centre and an archive of records related to institutional trauma in the 20th century.
To contribute to the social and economic development of Dublin’s North East Inner City, the site will also encompass social housing and local community facilities, as well as an educational and early learning facility.
Dublin City Council has approved the transfer of ownership of the site to the Office of Public Works paving the way for the site to be developed and marking another historic day for the North East Inner City.
I understand the Office of Public Works commenced the first phase of works last week which will make the buildings safe to access and facilitate future works.
A building with such a complex and important history, demands a sensitive approach in how it is refurbished and repurposed to benefit the local community for decades to come.
I want to thank all involved from the North East Inner City Initiative, Dublin City Council, local councillors, the OPW and all parties involved in this project for their work over the last number of years.
People from all over Ireland, and not just in the North East Inner City can, and should be proud of the efforts made on this project.
Upon completion it will provide facilities for the local community, while also providing a vital centre of remembrance for those affected by institutional trauma.
Once again, the North East Inner City will be at the forefront of a unique, progressive project of national significance that the whole community can be proud of for decades to come.
Our parks are a lifeline in our busy streets, a place to connect with nature, relax and meet friends, and a space for children to run and play games.
Diamond Park is one of those lifelines and its redevelopment was a key ask by the community.
Importantly, I know that the community were instrumental in identifying how the park can meet local needs.
Supported through the North East Inner City Greening Strategy, work has begun on transforming this vital park into a major new public space to be enjoyed by all.
That of course is just one of many positive visual changes brought about by the Greening Strategy.
As most of you will know, many local areas, such as the Busáras Triangle, Bresford Place and Oriel Street, have been transformed from concrete spaces into beautifully landscaped spaces which support bio-diversity with trees, shrubs, and flowers.
By investing in improvements in our neighbourhoods, we are investing in people and communities. Proud communities need places they are proud off and visible signs that both the people and the place are worth investing in.
Communities are the heart of an area and providing opportunities to bring communities together in a joyful manner helps break down barriers and unites us all.
The North East Inner City is home to many communities and is rich in its diversity.
I know from reading this Report the strong emphasis which was placed on promoting integration and supporting multi-cultural activities throughout 2022.
I was struck by the front cover of the Progress Report and the collection of vibrant photographs celebrating the numerous local live events which took place over the past year, supported by funding from the North East Inner City Initiative.
These events are such an important part of community life, both here and throughout the country, particularly as we emerged from a uniquely challenging two years of restrictions.
As a nation we have always been a people with an innate need to socialise, to know our neighbours and to share our lives and experiences with each other, and the North East Inner City, with its own rich, cultural history is certainly no different in this regard.
These events allow us the opportunity to socialise and enjoy shared experiences together. They strengthen communities through the friendships and memories made, which last long after an event has finished.
It is my hope that these relationships, old and new, can continue to bear fruit in driving integration and positive change for the North East Inner City.
I have no doubt that in 2023, the Programme Implementation Board, led by their Chair Michael Stone, will continue to work tirelessly for this community, as they have done over the the last 5 years.
I would also like to acknowledge the communities who have worked alongside the Board to bring about positive changes and make a difference over the past number of years. You should be proud of the contribution you have made to this journey.
I very much look forward to hearing of even more landmark achievements in the year to come.
I would like to wish you continued success in all of your endeavours, congratulations on so much achieved to date, and a Happy Christmas to you all.