22 October 2009 Edition
St Teresa's Gardens regeneration abandoned
BY ELLA O’DWYER
RESIDENTS of St Teresa’s Gardens, in the Dolphin’s Barn area of Dublin’s south inner city, are meeting Dublin City Council this week, as An Phoblacht goes to press, following the council’s decision to scrap a promised regeneration of their complex.
Sinn Féin Councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh, who was instrumental in securing the emergency meeting for the tenants, is concerned that residents will be abandoned to the very poor conditions in which they now live – dampness, sewage problems and general poor maintenance.
“We heard three months ago that the project had collapsed,” Críona says. “I’d made a request that the St Teresa’s Gardens Residents’ Association be allowed come to a meeting this week of Dublin City South Central area committee, a meeting of councillors representing the constituency, to make a presentation about the feelings about the collapsed project and to draw attention to their plight.
“I had asked that they be allowed to address us because, even though I know what’s going on in St Teresa’s, other councillors don’t. The request was approved. The idea is to keep the pressure on and maybe draw some media attention to the issues these residents are dealing with because the conditions there are really bad at the minute.
“While we’re waiting for the regeneration, which will be years away now because of the current financial situation, we want to keep attention on the conditions in the complex. My fear is that it’ll be left rundown. There’s sewage problems, damp problems, maintenance and anti-social problems.”
DRAGGING THEIR HEELS
The flats, which were built in the 1950s, were to have been demolished and replaced in a substantial development of social and affordable units, private apartments and community facilities. But this fell through. “There were three remaining bidders for the development. What we on the Regeneration Board were worried about was that the bidders were dragging their heels and we needed them to show financial viability. They either had the money or they hadn’t and, as it turned out, they wouldn’t have had sufficient funds. None of them would have been able to go ahead with it so Dubin City Council closed the competition. That was the end of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) as we knew it.
“We’ve been having meetings over the last three months to try and figure out where we’re at now. What’s happened now is that Dublin City Council set up its own task force and got funding for St Michael’s Estate, O’Devaney Gardens and Dominick Street. They’re the three areas the council is prioritising. But we were worried about what would happen with St Teresa’s Gardens and we’ve been told that once that task force has the three developments up and running, St Teresa’s will be on the next task force agenda, but we don’t know when that will be. It could be five years or it could be seven years the way the country is going.”
This is a very disappointing outcome for the people living in St Teresa’s.
“It’s absolutely demoralising for the residents,” Críona says. “It’s a feeling of abandonment. The residents have endured the conditions there thinking ‘this is it’, we’ll get our regeneration.
“There were years of meetings and consultation. Stephen Shiels the Dublin City Council’s project manager for the St Teresa’s regeneration project gave so much time to this. He’s broken-hearted for the residents.
“My main concern now is that, in the interim between now and when the regeneration does go ahead, that Dublin City Council meets its duty of care for the residents living there. It’s vital that the council commits to taking care of these residents properly until such time as the regeneration does go ahead.”