After the darkness today offers prospects for a new dawn in Limerick - Quinlivan
Limerick Sinn Féin's Maurice Quinlivan has today strongly welcomed the publication of vision documents for the regeneration of Moyross, Southill and Ballinacurra Weston. Quinlivan said that he and his party were keen to offer their support for the plans to improve facilities and services in both areas, something for which Sinn Fein has been campaigning for over many years.
He said: "The ideas contained in the vision documents have the potential to bring a significant degree of hope to these seriously deprived areas, so of course we welcome them and hope that, once we know the full detail, we will be able to offer our wholehearted support for them."
Quinlivan said: "I agree with John Fitzgerald in today's report when he says that 'the three critical strands are intensive policing intervention, economic and infrastructural regeneration and a coordinated response to social and educational disadvantage.' I am particularly pleased that many of the ideas, policies and suggestions advocated by myself and Sinn Féin over a number of years are contained within these documents. They have the potential to be frameworks for the building of new safe communities, where all will be able to live securely and proudly. Sinn Féin welcomes them and cautions that progress can only be maintained with continued and extensive local consultation. Change by its nature can be traumatic and unsettling especially for the elderly and I hope the agencies will proceed with its plans with this in mind."
"Getting the housing situation right is crucial to the success of these projects. I am encouraged by the intent of the agencies that a major effort to promote home ownership will be pursued. Turning tenants into homeowners would act as an incentive to maintain and improve properties, which in turn would improve the broader environment and encourage people to remain in these areas.
"I agree with the agencies that we have yet to achieve a normalised situation with regard to policing. Effective policing is the key to any successful regeneration. Sinn Féin will strive to ensure that we have a civic policing service that solves problems, operates with appropriate accountability structures, serves the people of Limerick and enhances community safety. Without a radical new approach to policing the whole of the regeneration process is doomed to failure."
"The recommendation that regeneration agencies will ensure that local residents especially will benefit from any job and employment opportunities is to be particularly welcomed. The establishment of the necessary training programmes and support services to ensure residents can access employment opportunities, (providing Safe Pass courses etc.) must be fast tracked."
"I welcome the sober and honest recognition in the documents that the current regional approach to tackling Limerick's drug problems is not sufficient due to the nature and scale of drug trafficking, misuse and addiction in Limerick City. Sinn Féin have long argued that the need for a local drugs task force in Limerick is essential. However the government hasn't been convinced that this is necessary and has dragged its feet on the proposal. It really is deeply irresponsible of government to have allowed the drug situation in Limerick to reach its present scale. The Fitzgerald report provided a very clear road map for the way forward in tackling the drugs problem and recommended a local Limerick focus in this regard. Our party has also developed solid commonsense policies on drugs and we would once again call on the government to reconsider its position with respect to setting up a Local Drugs Task Force.
"The proposal that initiatives to address educational disadvantage be prioritised is very welcome. I have long argued that addressing issues such as social exclusion and educational under-achievement, including poor school attendance and early leaving is central to tackling crime and anti-social behaviour. In addition, a family-based approach should be adopted that encourages and supports parents/guardians to be active participants in the education process. The situation where some local schools continue to offer too few places to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds has to end.
"Sinn Féin will study the documents very carefully before we respond in full at a later date. However our initial reaction is to welcome the Vision Documents as a serious start at addressing major social problems, which have bedevilled Limerick for far too long. It is important to emphasise that this is just the beginning and that there is a huge amount of work to be done which will require a long-term commitment - and major investment of resources from the Government. What we don't need is what we have had too many times in the past; fine words which have led to little or no action on the ground.
To quote from the song On The One Road "Night is darkest just before the dawn"... These areas have seen the darkness lets hope what we are witnessing today is a real dawn, one that will offer hope and lead to the emergence of safe communities where people are proud to live and call home." Quinlivan concluded.