Minister for Justice promises long-term strategy to address problems in Cherry Orchard – The Irish Times
Cherry Orchard in West Dublin, where a Garda car was rammed by so-called “joy-riders” on Monday evening, will see more gardaí and increased investment in a range of services as part of a long-term strategy for the area, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said.
Speaking after meeting public representatives and community leaders in the area on Friday, she stopped short of saying a taskforce would be set up for the area, but confirmed she would meet Dublin City Council (DCC) officials on Monday.
“The reason I am here today is to work with the community to try to respond — to ensure yes, that there is [a] criminal justice response, that there are the Garda resources the community needs, [but also] to ensure the right kind of resources and the right kind of community response. That is the most important thing from now on.
“Any type of co-ordinated response, any type of investment or regeneration or support that is needed in a community this size, it takes time. So the first step today was meeting the community, listening to them, understanding what it is that they need and then taking it from there.”
She said there would be further meetings with senior gardaí on increasing manpower in Cherry Orchard and Clondalkin.
While no officials from DCC were at the meeting, it was attended by retired assistant city manager Brendan Kenny. Mr Kenny led the Limerick regeneration project in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the city between 2007 and 2012.
Local councillor Daithí Doolan, who was at the meeting, described it as “very significant” and called for someone to “drive” a long-term strategy.
“We are at a tipping point in Cherry Orchard. Minister McEntee was left in no doubt what needs to be done to turn the situation around in Cherry Orchard.
“The events this week which saw a Garda car rammed by robbed cars is only the tip of the iceberg. It reflects deeper issues that need to be addressed at senior Government and senior Garda level. We need to break the spiral of violence and trauma in this community. Short-term solutions are doomed to failure.”
He called for a long-term strategy for the area similar to the taskforce that was established to tackle crime, antisocial behaviour and poverty in the northeast inner city in 2016.
Cllr Hazel Norton said there was “harrowing” intergenerational addiction and poverty to such an extent that some children were missing school simply because they had no runners. Funding streams and plans had to be “bespoke” and “targeted” to the problems the area faced.
“I am happy the Minister came but I will be happy if she actually delivers. She hasn’t given us a timeline to come back with a response. We have the plans to make the area better. She needs to appoint someone now to drive them.”
Brendan Cummins, youth worker at the local Familibase centre for children, young people and families, said the people “felt heard by the Minister” but echoed calls for “something more concrete in the way of a plan soon — by Halloween at the latest”.