Call to action, all Dublin northsiders


Brendan Walsh

Dubliner                                 (Photo: Brendan Walsh)


It would appear the DublinTown/BID company is hell bent on generally demonising and othering the North side of this city.  I am a member of the DublinTown/BID board and I wish to entirely distance myself from the attached report that was presented at this afternoon’s financial meeting at Dublin City Council.

It seems that the CEO, Mr Richard Guiney, thinks he is running this city and that he can make generalised pronouncements as ‘fact’ regarding certain parts of the city.

Fear and crime in Ireland, not just Dublin, is a big issue. Fear of crime is a global issue and is well-documented, but it is seldom used to demonise an area, a neighbourhood, a community.  Somebody has to come to the defence of the great Northside of our city and the fantastic people that live and work there. DublinTown/BID was set up to improve area’s (the clue is in the name- Business Improvement District).  It was rebranded ‘We are DublinTown’ to be more inclusive and welcoming.  But when it starts to demonise and ridicule whole parts of the city, in my view, it is time to challenge Mr Guiney and his board and the whole idea of what DublinTown/BID  actually is.

As an Independent City Councillor, I have a deep loyalty to my city and its citizens and a duty to Dublin City Council.  Dublin City Council should come out and defend the city and the politicians of the Northside should come out and defend that part of the city against Mr Guiney’s and BID’s slurs about its character and good name.

Nobody has questioned DublinTown’s findings  in the attached report or where he got them from.  Nobody at the meeting today of the Finance SPC questioned him on them other than me.  On the contrary, they broadly endorsed Mr Guiney’s presentation, obviously completely unaware that he was going to present his report to the RTE news as a fait accompli. Of course, the media picked up on his negative portrayal of the Northside of our city in a sensationalist headline that doesn’t help this city in its many struggles. Or assist the many individuals and residents who go out every day to make the place a better place.

Twenty years ago, Limerick city was greatly damaged by this same kind of media coverage of reports like these and it has taken the citizens of Limerick to the present day to shrug off and counter the stigmatising of that great city.  As in Limerick, short term sensational headlines did most of the damage and DublinTown and Mr. Guiney are now engaged in that same practice and Dublin will suffer greatly as a result of their careless recklessness toward the businesses and citizens of this city.

The reputation of Dublin and in particular Dublin’s Northside is at stake here.

DublinTown/BID is not a statutory organisation.  It should not be given a carte blanche platform to put out these reports. I am constantly questioning DublinTown/BID and the manner in which it is allowed to conduct its business in this city.  It carries a big business agenda and ignores SMEs and shops and as, in this report, it recklessly ghettoises a large part of the commercial and residential district. In my opinion, this renders BID unfit for purpose as it is negatively branding the north side of the city and spreading more loathing and fear. Not even An Garda Siochána would put out such a report and description.

For an organisation like DublinTown/BID to be doing this is an agenda of destruction, disregard, and disrespect for the city’s northside. City dwellers, especially northsiders should stand up to this and defend their city from the likes of DublinTown/BID who exist on a rate payers’ levy that is akin to a ransom demand according to most small business who are in a deep financial struggle to even exist.

For a company that is given rate payers’ money and allowed do this with it without being challenged is an absolute disgrace. Shame on the DublinTown/BID company, its board and its CEO for this action and these outrageous statements.

They should unreservedly apologise to the northsiders of Dublin for undermining them and stigmatising them in such a fashion.  If they were to do this to Grafton Street or indeed, South William Street there would be an unmerciful outcry.  We need now to hear the real voice of the Northside. The real voice of all Dubliner’s who love their city.

Mr. Guiney of DublinTown, instead of creating unity and a shared city that we can all enjoy, is creating a city of divide and foreboding and this at the expense of the city and its citizens, and he gets rate payers’ money to do it.

Given the day that’s in it, Bloomsday, where we celebrate the greatness of our city in all its guises from the Monto to the Sandycove Martello tower – it’s time to defend Dublin in all its aches, pains and glories.

Up the Dubs.

Link to RTE report:

Positive Intervention – Towards Rehab Street

What’s the big problem with the truth and the reality of whats going on in our society and on our streets. For those who have to face this on a daily basis and deal with it on a daily basis there is an enormous down side and it can have a catastrophic impact on their own health, well being and safety. Go ask the families of those that are on our streets in active addiction how they feel about whats going on. This is about feeling and drugs block feelings. But not everybody out there who is going about their daily business in and around this activity can sedate themselves or protect themselves from what’s going on around them. This is not a vote exercise its a reality exercise. I’ve got my own family members and friends and constituents out there on them streets at this activity. This is not something that I’ve just stumbled across – i’ve been engaged in this all my life and I’m actively engaged in assisting individuals towards rehabilitation and counselling.
The Daily Mirror spoke with me for over one hour, there were many issues discussed as with any journalist they edit it down to suit the piece. What I said in my remarks is no different than what would be said in any rehabilitation institute.
Its reality. Go into any NA room or AA room and try get away with mamby pamby nonsense. The issue here is that we’re getting overwhelmed by those in addiction. Its important to note that a lot of this behaviour is not tolerated in the flats anymore, not tolerated in their primary homes any more – so why should we tolerate it on our streets. It we can’t call a spade a spade and tell the truth as we see it then we’re in deeper trouble than those in the throws of addiction.
As for safe clinics to shoot up, thats a matter for the HSE and I’ve brought it up on many occasions now. Let me say here though, that you’re always going to be dealing with street issues, no matter what you provide because what you really need to provide is residential rehabilitation centres where people can go when they are ready to deal with the issue. You can also create Streetstep where people are positively engaged in the value of 12 Step program and are encouraged to come 12 Step meetings (NA and AA).

This is all about responsibility and the responsibility for addiction is something that the addict has to step up to. There is a good old saying ‘I like you but I don’t like your addictive behaviour’.
On a personal level, I was stuck in that kind of a hell for 20 odd years of my life, I can only speak for my own experience which is no different than any of those people on the streets or in our pubs or in luxury hotel rooms who are in active addiction of alcoholism, gambling or opiates. But I ain’t no sham-carer or reactionary. I deeply care about people, human beings who are caught up in the trauma of critical addiction and I do my best to carry the message of hope and recovery where ever I go and the most effective way to deliver that is direct.
There are 10s of millions of euros every year being spent on this issue. When you boil it down, this particular heroin issue is about the socially less well-off, those that are regarded as disadvantaged. The unfortunates. For over 30 odd years the State and Agents of the State and the so called ‘community activists’ have failed entirely to deal with this issue. The people on our streets, the homeless, the addicted, are not getting any of the so called benefit, they are merely regarded as the raw material for massive revenue streams into all these so called entities and service providers. We’re not talking about hundreds of thousands of people here, we’re talking about a few hundred that have created a culture as seen in O Connell Street over the past twenty odd years. This Culture has now formed into like a social community, widely regarded as a kind of murky underworld when in actual fact its not. Although its breaking the law, what goes on on O Connell Street and on our streets is a social thing, albeit, a dangerous and detrimental one.

I’m totally committed to finding new ways to change this dynamic. Part of that change is bare faced directness, brutal honesty and absolute reality. You can no longer pedal a grandiose statement around this that nobody is doing anything. If that were the case, there’d be nobody in NA or AA and it would be hopeless.
Its down to the individuals and any individual that I’ve ever come across, caught in addiction, has a massive willingness to change but is confronted by a massive desire to use. Somewhere in between this we have to find better methods to intervene in whatever setting we find active addiction and destruction.
For those who commented on my comments in the Daily Mirror, they seem to be under some illusion that I’m coming from some other place and they’re surprised. I don’t get this. I don’t get this at all and I find it peculiar, amateurish and care-taking that they would assume that I’m on their side or support their views whatever they may be.
I’m not in the business of pseudo-outreach. I don’t live my life like that and I don’t interact like that. The situation on our streets can be changed for the better. The diabolical consequences of active addiction in people’s lives wherever they are and whatever their circumstances can also be constitutionally changed. There is a proven method for all of those who wish to avail of it. Everybody comes to it slowly. Everybody is in their own journey.

However, its equally important to give full support for those people who also suffer great trauma as a result of other people’s addictions – like family members, relations, friends, wives, husbands, workers and the general public who are confronted with it on an ever increasing daily basis in our City.
Walk into any Al Anon room or read any Al Anon literature and you’ll get my point. The more equipped, informed and educated we are around the dynamics of active addiction, the more of service we can be to those who are suffering in their active addiction. These were my points that I tried to raise and I will continue to raise and not step back from. This is not an intolerant position but a realistic approach to a merciless patient and thorough destructive disease called addiction.

I would always hope that for those in active addiction that they would be educated into taking responsibility for their addiction. What’s taking place in our streets at the moment is a reckless disregard for everybody’s health and safety. And that, as it was unacceptable in the social housing complexes, unacceptable in any of our homes, should be equally unacceptable on our streets. This is not an authoritarian approach but a humanitarian one. So when you’re down there and you see all this happening, those engaged with the business of addiction can sedate themselves from their own trauma, those who are going about their daily business, their daily work in the shops and offices throughout the city, cannot.

In conclusion, this is but one side of one scenario taking place in Dublin city. There are over 10,000 registered users of heroin in our city. Many of them take responsibility and manage this condition in a responsible way. There are those also that are on the various programs of recovery and there are the ever increasing numbers that are attending counseling and also attending various meetings around the issues of compulsion and addiction. There are also the many that we don’t see. The addiction to the internet, gambling, food etc. Ever increasing numbers of individuals get to break out from their addictions and get to live incredible lives. That’s what we’re all striving for here. The spine of that possibility is the truth and the honest truth no matter how uncomfortable.