Drimnagh needs better facilities, job opportunities and substance intervention for young people, says a report published last month that was drawn up by the Drimnagh Task Force.
In November last year, Dublin City Council set up the task force in response to community concerns about anti-social behaviour by kids, the report says.
It surveyed 111 locals about their perceptions of anti-social behaviour, young people and drug use in Drimnagh.
Forty-five percent of those who responded said facilities and services in Drimnagh could be improved or were poor.
“The guts of the report is about getting extra resources for the community,” said Mick O’Reilly, chairperson of the task force.
“When we go back to this world after Covid, there’s going to be a scramble over resources,” he said. “Usually communities like this are left at the bottom of the heap.”
What They Said
One person surveyed for the report said they had noticed more anti-social behaviour since FÁS further education and training courses in the area closed.
Some said they were concerned that young people were bored because of a lack of facilities and were being swept into drug use and dealing because of this.
“There is open drug dealing on the streets,” one person wrote.
“Not all teens involved in anti-social behaviour may be involved in drugs but there is a link between the two on the streets,” said another.
The report acknowledged the intergenerational impact of drug use, and the proximity of young people to drug use, as main factors behind problems in the community.
The taskforce report says that is due to criminal operations in the area that groom young people.
Some negative issues involve a “relatively small cohort”, says Brian Murphy, manager of the St John Bosco Youth Centre in Drimnagh.
When not addressed, drug dealing becomes the norm for young people rather than a small part of the community, he says.
“It’s for society to intervene, to help in the education system and provide training, and to talk about the creation of work and jobs to bring meaning to people’s lives,” Murphy said.
The problems don’t just fall from the sky, says O’Reilly, chair of the task force. “People need assistance and help from the community to be taken away from the potentiality of drug crimes in these areas.”
It starts with the education system, he says. “People have to have a sense that if they get involved in education that they can find useful work afterwards.”
The report includes calls for more training courses, help with the transition from primary to secondary school, and after-school activities.
Daithí Doolan, a Sinn Féin councillor, said the big challenge was for services to have well-coordinated responses across neighbourhoods.
“To ensure we reach out and work with the young people who are vulnerable to drugs and criminality,” he said.
In the report, other recommendations were for teachers and youth workers to help kids with the move from primary and secondary school, which can be overwhelming and lead to them disengaging from education.
Other solutions in the report include raising the voices of locals and co-ordinated lobbying for new investment in the area.
Introducing IT training courses could attract funding from tech firms such as Microsoft, it says.
It also suggests a need for family supports, educational guidance and flexible extracurricular activities, particularly for 5-10 year olds.
“We want to involve young people in some of the solutions themselves,” says O’Reilly.
“I hope the focus will be kept on the community, and not just leave it to officialdom. I think that’s the best way of making the report happen,” he said.
He said he hopes that Dublin City Council will start to examine what resources can be put behind implementing the recommendations in the report in the next few months, he says.
Says Murphy, of the St John Bosco Youth Centre: “There is a spirit of wanting to fix these problems through community. Working with schools, Tusla, everyone involved, and finding effective ways of how we can cooperate and work together.”
The 70-year-old building housing the St John Bosco Youth Centre is a place to start, says Murphy.
Although it has a youth cafe, sports hall, dance studio and training rooms, there is a huge need for outdoor space, improved equipment and accessibility, he says.
“It needs a facelift,” says Stacey Ward, who started going to the centre 10 years ago when she was 15 years old.
She was a youth leader at the centre, helping to organise the Drimnagh festival with a parade and dressing up. “We’d have music, bouncy castles, face painting, and all that. It was a fun day.”
With Covid-19 measures mean the Bosco centre is operating mostly online, but youth workers do go out on the streets to engage with young people.
“The Bosco used to be buzzing with young people in and out at all hours of the day,” she says, and young local people are struggling with nothing to do.
Improving the youth centre building would mean they could “do a hell of a lot more”, she says.