A profile of the challenges facing the north inner city ahead of a by-election in the constituency of Dublin Central.

Dublin Central constituency is the most densely populated one in the State.  Stretching from the docks as far as the Phoenix Park, and bordered by Cabra and Griffith Avenue to the north, it encompasses Drumcondra and Phibsborough.  However a distinct core in and around O’Connell Street is lagging behind and in need of a lot of help.

Unfortunately for this north inner city neighbourhood, the mechanisation of dock work and the closure of local factories have resulted in generational unemployment.  In this part of Dublin, where people once went into trades and employment upon leaving school, unemployment is now as high as 70 per cent.  

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul has a long history of working in this part of Dublin. Former President Cormac Ó Broin explains that when the industrial landscape changed, gaps were not filled by new industries or businesses, and many families moved away.  At present, the community is in the doldrums, with only two groups living there,

Tá clainne, agus iad go léir díomhaoin, tá seandaoine agus iad ina cónaí aonaraigh.

The kind of generational deprivation which the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is addressing is visibly evident. The dilapidated conditions of the north inner city’s Georgian houses are a far cry from what were once the most stylish and sought after residential streets in the capital.  

Architect, planner, and heritage activist Uinseann MacEoin, has been campaigning for the conservation of Georgian Dublin.  Intimately acquainted with both the buildings, streets and people of inner city Dublin, he believes that government and Dublin Corporation policies are to blame for the state of the area today.

Bhí sé briste ar fad agus tá sé briste go fóil.

Is it possible to turn things around for the north inner city?  After all, there are architects like himself working in Dublin Corporation, where new houses are being designed and constructed, and pockets of improvement are visible.  

Uinseann MacEoin Change believes change is possible but says but it must be multifaceted.

Ach ní leor iad, muna mbíonn fostaíocht ann dos na h-ógánaigh a bhéas ag fás suas iontu.

Creating enterprise zones in the inner city will help. Employment opportunities are bound to arise if there is an availability of business premises, coupled with advice for local entrepreneurs, and financial assistance in the form of grants.

This episode of ‘Féach’ was broadcast on 28 October 1983.  The reporter is Pat Butler.