THE 2013 regeneration budget of €27 million will be matched by a similar amount in 2014, according to City Council regeneration director Oliver O’Loughlin. Mr O’Loughlin told a regeneration meeting at City Hall that a number of infrastructural projects were in the pipeline, including improved motorway connections for the southside of the city, an upgrade to the St Mary’s Park water supply and work on the Northern Distributor Road. He added that the current focus with regard to regeneration was on “retrofitting and refurbishment” as funding was not available to carry out the original plan of total demolition and rebuilding.
Mr O’Loughlin stressed that communication with the regeneration communities was vital as “people will bear with you if they know what’s going on”.
He continued: “It’s important that we don’t create expectations that we can’t deliver on, we have to build up trust in the communities. The only way we can build confidence is if we start to deliver on programmes.”
According to Mr O’Loughlin, there will also be a focus on engaging the local community in gainful employment with regard to regeneration works.
Independent Councillor Pat Kennedy remarked: “I wasn’t happy with the way things were going but I hope we learn from it.”
He also suggested that representatives of the Department of Education, the HSE and An Garda Síochána should be present at regeneration meetings.
Fine Gael Councillor Ger Fahy highlighted the closure of facilities, such as the Credit Union branch in Southill, and the drop in the number of children attending school in the area.
He said: “Regeneration wasn’t about relocation, it was about improving facilities in the area.”
“Residents have endured a lot, particularly the residents who have chosen to stay,” stated Labour Councillor Joe Leddin.
Sinn Fein Councillor Maurice Quinlivan pointed out: “People in regeneration areas are very depressed and disappointed and they’re lacking in confidence in the process. Some of the areas look worse now than they did when they started.”