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  • Northside West

Leo’s visit gets mixed reaction

Monday, 28th January, 2019 8:00am
Leo’s visit gets mixed reaction

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was presented with a birthday cake during his visit to DCU in the Community.

Leo’s visit gets mixed reaction

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was presented with a birthday cake during his visit to DCU in the Community.

A DUBLIN North West TD has defended the recent visit by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to Ballymun after it was criticised by local councillors.

The Taoiseach dropped into Our Lady’s Nursery, DCU In The Community, Ballymun Kickhams and the Rediscovery Centre during his visit.

However, Councillor Noeleen Reilly (IND) accused him of failing to meet frontline community groups and local residents who could have shown him first hand difficulties faced in the area, including an escalating drug problem.

“We wanted him to see and hear first hand some of the issues in the area,” she said. 

“However he chose to make this visit a public relations exercise without having any meaningful engagement with the community.”

Cllr Reilly said youth clubs, the local drugs task force and Setanta GAA – who penned a controversial open letter highlighting the drug issue last year – had been ignored during the visit.

“We have been calling for action over the last year which includes the commissioning of a report similar to the Mulvey Report in the North Inner City and the completion of the regeneration,” she added.

Cllr Paul McAuliffe (FF) said he was “extremely disappointed” that the visit took the form of a tour and not a round table discussion with all local agencies dealing directly with the issues of crime and drugs.

“Last October I called on the Taoiseach to come to Ballymun with a number of relevant Ministers and to hold a round table discussion with the key agencies,” he said.

“I hoped that he would listen to these local organisations in a similar way they had met the Fianna Fail Front bench.

“I felt strongly that local organisations already had the answers to many of the current problems in Ballymun and that with the right support and resources the community itself could tackle the increasing scourge of open drug dealing, crime, anti-social behaviour, addiction and the impact of poverty.”

Cllr McAuliffe also said he was delighted that the community organisations visited by the Taoiseach had an opportunity to show him their range of activities.

In response to the criticism Dublin North West TD Noel Rock (FG) said that An Taoiseach had received many requests from groups to meet on the visit but there wasn’t enough time as the schedule had already been set.

“I was delighted to host the Taoiseach in Ballymun for his fourth visit to the area, and his third as Taoiseach,” he said.

“As part of the visit, we undertook to meet with a number of organisations who were facing challenges and opportunities, as many in Ballymun are. 

“On this occasion, we visited Our Lady’s Nursery, who do vital work for many children, including the children of homeless families.

“We also visited the Rediscovery Centre where we recently assisted in getting funding for five new full time employees - a great boost for this brilliant enterprise.

“We stopped into DCU in the Community who pledged their continued commitment to Ballymun, Finglas and surrounds, and continue to provide vital support to students.

“Finally, we visited Ballymun Kickhams, where the Taoiseach pledged to assist however possible with their move to the heart of Ballymun. 

“For those criticising the itinerary, the obvious question would be: which stop would you have cut out?”

Deputy Rock added that he and An Taoiseach would endeavour to visit other organisations not visited this time in the future.

An Taoiseach was celebrating his birthday during the visit and was presented with a cake when he dropped into DCU in the Community.

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