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Thursday 27 April 2017

'Our neighbourhoods are at risk', inner city children tell minister

Katherine Zappone (right) speaks to the inner city youngsters Picture: Fennells
Katherine Zappone (right) speaks to the inner city youngsters Picture: Fennells

Children and teens from the north inner city have told a Government minister of their fears for their home neighbourhood and hopes for the future.

Following the violent events in Dublin this year with the Hutch-Kinahan cartel feud, more than 140 staff - from various community groups - and 460 youths came together to talk about how they can overcome social problems in the area.

The initiative is called the "North East Inner City Brighter Futures Initiative" and was established to give children and teens from across the area a voice.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone met with 30 teens and children at the National College of Ireland (NCI) campus on Wednesday night, when she was told first hand of their experiences.

Topics included tackling violence, facilities needed, drug dealing and the regeneration of the area. Ms Zappone said it was an extremely worthwhile meeting.

"You have identified the litter problem, derelict buildings and the knocking down of flats, which has seen some of your friends move out of the area," said Ms Zappone.

"There are other issues too, including bullying and the drug problem.

"Thank you for being so clear and honest in highlighting these problems."

A report of the group's feedback is due in March and Ms Zappone will present it to cabinet. Taoiseach Enda Kenny has committed to a major task force plan.

Chris Garvin (19), from Talbot Street, is involved in the Belvedere Youth Club and wants to "be someone to talk to for the kids".

Growing

"I'm trying to educate the people growing up - just like I was - to stay away from trouble and spread more positivity around the area. That's why I'm here today," Mr Garvin said.

The initiative focuses on communication, resolving conflict and repairing damaged relationships.

Dr Josephine Bleach, director of the Early Learning Initiative at NCI, said: "The key objectives are to support the educational, emotional and social development of the children and families in the Dublin docklands and east inner city area."

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