Last summer, following a spate of violence in Dublin’s north inner city, the government announced a €1.6 million funding package meant to help address the roots of the problem.
We filed a request last autumn, under the Freedom of Information Act, asking for records and correspondence from or to the Taoiseach, or officials at the Department of Taoiseach, that mentioned that funding package – including details of where the money would come from.
Here are the documents we got, which show, partly, how fast the short-term one-off funding package was drawn together from different departments.
Most of them are brief missives back and forward, double-checking the wording of press releases, confirming figures for the funding.
But there’s also a curious remark in a 6 July email from Department of Housing Official David Walsh to Assistant Secretary at the Department of the Taoiseach John Shaw, relating to an early suggestion around funding that was to be channelled to communities.
The subject line read: “just to confirm, decisions on how to disburse those SICAP funds will be through LCDCs (so there’s some insulation for Govt)”.
(SICAP is the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme, and LCDCs are Local Community Development Committees.)
It’s unclear what Walsh meant by his reference to “insulation” for the government.
An email auto-responder says he’s on leave until next month, and the Department of Housing’s press office did not respond to a query about what the comment meant by the time this was published.
The emails also show exchanges over the progress on the Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station, which residents want to see reopened.
On 12 July, Shaw wrote to an official in the Department of Justice to say that they were trying to finalise the initiative and asking if there was any word on costs.
A Department of Justice official, George Trimble, replied by email that they were working on it. “Given the nature of the issues with the building – we understand that there are serious fire and other safety issues involved – it will take a bit of time to establish the likely costs involve in bringing it up to standard,” he said.
On 14 September, the latest update was that the Office of Public Works was working on the technical assessments necessary to identify and cost the proposed renovations to the building “as a matter of urgency”, according to an email from a Department of Justice official.
On Tuesday, a Department of Justice spokesperson said that “A significant amount of work is required to bring the building up to a suitable standard, and it is not possible at this time to give an indication as to when the station will be reopened.”
You can browse the documents below. Let us know if we didn’t notice something.