A new, government-commissioned report sets out a plan to develop a “sustainable community” in the Kilmainham-Inchicore area.
The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government commissioned it to “identify the needs of Inchicore-Kilmainham from a strategic social and community perspective”, the report says.
Jack Nolan, a retired Garda assistant commissioner, met with 107 people while drawing up the report and its recommendations, he says. That included local politicians, sports clubs, youth clubs, businesses, and service providers.
The area “has a very large cohort of very committed people who want to develop the area and make it as a great place to live for the current generation and the future generations”, Nolan says.
“The Department of Housing and Planning were looking at things from a wider lens at how Kilmainham could develop its communities in a sustainable fashion for the future that would be able for development through social changes, economic changes,” says Nolan.
Nolan’s report makes short-, medium- and long-term recommendations. These range from relocating the Garda station and improving public lighting, to developing a “historical military quarter”, to bringing in an education and learning campus.
But getting most of these things done will require energy, direction and funding from the central government – and it’s unclear yet whether that will be forthcoming.
Especially as the government that commissioned it is now facing an election.
In the Short Term
Some of the recommendations in the report are highlighted as things that need to be done in the short-term.
Those include, broadly, developing community leadership and capacity. “There is a need for strengthening local leadership and local community groups that provide community leadership in that fashion,” Nolan says.
Setting up a new Inchicore Kilmainham Development Board, and merging two existing organisations – the Kilmainham Inchicore Network (KIN) and the Inchicore Regenerative Consultative Forum (IRCF) – into a new community forum would help, the report says.
This would see an increase in community representation and local leadership, says Nolan.
The report also recommends that project workers be hired for the area, for family and child support, marketing, and for heritage, arts and culture.
Other short-term goals include measures to improve community safety – including the suggestion that Kilmainham Garda station be moved to Emmet Road so it’s more visible.
There should be an “innovative foods, arts and crafts quarter” too, the report suggests.
It cites the Jamestown Road Industrial Estate and the Goldenbridge Industrial Estate as potential homes for markets, which would encourage local arts, crafts and traders, it says. (The Goldenbridge estate is one patch of land that the council is currently considering rezoning to allow for new development.)
Finally, the report suggests measures to make the general environment of Kilmainham and Inchicore more pleasant – with a call to address concerns about public lighting and street furniture, to finish the Camac River greenway, and to support local clean-up groups, among other measures.
In the Medium Term
“The first thing that I learned was that Kilmainham and Inchicore was steeped in history, steeped in culture,” Nolan said, this week.
Developing a “historical military quarter” is a medium-term goal that also made it into the report.
That would need the appointment of an area director of heritage, culture, and tourism, the report says.
Nolan also recommends developing a historical walking trail, and walks around the landmarks in the area – and starting to redevelop Kilmainham Mill.
He mentions the need to market the neighbourhood as the “historical military quarter”, and also the wider area as Destination Dublin 8. That raises the hackles of some councillors.
“I sometimes have a concern over marketing these areas as Destination Dublin 8. It’s a destination, but for who?” says Labour Councillor Rebecca Moynihan.
In terms of medium-term goals, the report also highlighted the need for social services in the area.
There needs to be a dedicated coordinator of family and child support, and a bespoke programme for vulnerable parents and adults, it says.
Enhanced addiction and youth support services are needed too, it says. As well as to “develop a culture of collaboration between all the support services within the area”.
People Before Profit Councillor Tina MacVeigh said those were the kinds of recommendations she wanted to see.
“There was a lot of mention of marketing and quarters, but I would have liked to see a much stronger emphasis on social regeneration and the role of the community who has led us to this point,” she said.
Further into the future still, Nolan’s report recommends developing an education and learning campus.
That would cater to all levels of learning – from pre-school to adults, says the report. That includes research and jobs in a “medical quarter”, and an adult-education and careers programme with Inchicore College of Further Education.
MacVeigh says she thinks that there needs to be an emphasis on the social issues of the area before a learning campus is developed.
“It’s not about building a campus and bringing young people kicking and screaming into the educational system. A lot of other social issues need to be addressed,” she says.
Will Any of It Happen?
Labour’s Moynihan said that Nolan did a good job of engaging with everybody as he drew up the report.
But the report needs to be matched by funding and a driver – a leading figure to oversee the project, she says.
“The one thing that I would be concerned about is that it is a report that sits on the shelf,” she says.
In the small print of the report, it notes that “the key recommendations in this report, together with any associated funding requirements which may arise, are a matter for Government consideration”.
Under the terms of reference for the report, it says that “a small steering group to consist of senior officials from across relevant Government Departments, will be set up to examine the recommendations”.
Said Nolan: “I really appreciated the help, the commitment and the goodwill of so many people who contributed from all walks of the community.”
Donal Corrigan: Donal Corrigan is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. He covers transport, and the southside. To get in contact with him, you can email him on firstname.lastname@example.org