Mr Michael Stone, Independent Chair of the NEIC Initiative
The North East Inner City initiative is a major initiative arising from The Mulvey Report entitled “Dublin’s North East Inner City – Creating a Brighter Future” which was published in February 2017 and recommended specific measures which would support the long-term economic and social regeneration of the area. The NEIC Programme Implementation Board was established in 2017 and works to implement these recommendations.
I was honoured to accept the invitation from the Taoiseach to chair the Programme Implementation Board. As the independent chairperson of the NEIC Programme Implementation Board, it has been my privilege to meet with many people living and working in the area who wish for a safe and stable community with positive opportunities for themselves and their families. The Board is firmly focussed on achieving the NEIC’s vision ‘Making the North East Inner City a safe, attractive and vibrant living and working environment for the community and its families with opportunities for all to lead full lives’.
The NEIC Values of Community, Integration of Services, Pride, Trust and Commitment act as the ‘glue’ that tie all of the varying NEIC work together. In order to build further on our work the NEIC Strategic Action Plan 2020-2022 was developed in 2019. It is the most ambitious and forward thinking publication published by the Initiative to date and includes 17 Strategic Objectives which supplement the recommendations of the Mulvey Report.
The focus of the Strategic Plan has been broken into six different workstreams:
· Enhanced Policing
· Maximising Educational, Training and Employment Opportunities
· Family Wellbeing
· Enhancing Community Wellbeing and the Physical Landscape
· Substance Use, Misuse and Inclusion Health
· Alignment of Services
The Subgroups driving these workstreams forward include representation from a wide range of stakeholders within the Civil and Public service and the local community. This collaboration has been key to the significant progress made since the initiative’s inception.
Some of our accomplishments to date include:
• A broad range of community and family events have been either supported or produced by the NEIC, such as the Five Lamps Arts Festival, The Big Scream Halloween Festival, Festival of Nations and a wide series of community events.
• Multiple sport, recreation and wellbeing activities have been developed in partnership with Dublin City Council and Sport Ireland. These activities have been well received and supported by the local community.
• The NEIC Initiative has successfully implemented a number of improvements to enhance policing services in the area and tackle crime and drugs. Examples include the allocation of additional Gardaí to the area, deployment of the Community Support Van, additional resources for the Divisional Drugs Unit, and the installation of additional CCTV cameras.
• Education, training and employment opportunities have been enhanced through various initiatives such as the P-TECH programme, Social Employment Fund, Career LEAP (Local Employment Action Partnership) and increased levels of employer engagement particularly through our Transition Year Work Experience Programme.
• Work is ongoing to further integrate social services in the area, such as the funding of the NEIC Executive Leadership Programme; mapping services in the area and the development of a directory of services.
• The physical landscape and environment of the NEIC has been improved, including road resurfacing, public lighting upgrade, social housing re-developments, upgrade of community facilities, the clean-up of railway bridges, and our Greening Strategy which has seen the introduction of trees and planted areas on the streets.
• Addiction treatment and rehabilitation services have been enhanced to support community members. This has included local needs assessments to develop service provision in the area, piloting a drug and wellbeing programme in local secondary school, aligning to mental health services, establishing an Inclusion Health Hub and supporting people to move out of homelessness through existing initiatives such as Housing First.
• Delivery of the City Connects, a bespoke programme tailored towards the developmental and educational needs of all primary school children within the NEIC.
• Strong support through all community, public and Government bodies to take care of the most vulnerable throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
• The pilot Community Safety Partnership for the North Inner City Electoral Area began in 2021 supported by the Department of Justice, the Department of the Taoiseach, the Dublin City Council and the NEIC initiative.
• Under the Emerging Needs Fund, we have supplied 457 laptops and tablets to local schools to address an urgent requirement for additional technology hardware to facilitate remote learning.
I would like to thank all of our local community groups and representatives, and all stakeholders within the area for their involvement, feedback and crucially, hard work over the last number of years. I would also like to thank the Government for its commitment to the initiative over a sustained period.
While a lot of progress has been made to date, I remain passionate to continue in our work and to support the North East Inner City’s greatest resource, its people.