I am delighted to be here at the CPF Conference, Reform and Renewal. It is a particular source of pride for me to be here not just in my capacity as a local public representative but also as Lord Mayor of Dublin.
The North Inner City Community Policing Forum was the first forum ever to be established and is used as a template for other Policing Fora which have since been established.
I am conscious that this is the first conference we have had since the untimely death of Tony Gregory. The CPF was established initially through the Drugs Task Force. Tony was one of the founding members of the CPF and one of the greatest anti-drugs campaigner the country has ever known. He worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of the North Inner City and was the greatest advocate against crime, particularly drug related crime. His legacy remains strong and
I have no doubt that he will be remembered well with fondness and respect over the course of the conference.
As a local public representative I am keenly aware of the importance of the work of the Community Policing Forum in dealing with the issues facing our community. Drug related crime and anti-social behaviour continue to scourge our communities and while issues related housing, urban regeneration and civic management are significant factors contributing to the problems and issues in our communities. I want to acknowledge the work of Dublin City Council staff under the Area Manager, Charlie Lowe in their contribution to the work of the Forum, in working with the community to resolve the problems the City Council can address.
The alarming increase in unemployment is also a significant issue for the people of the North Inner City. While the North Inner City did not benefit from the excesses of the Celtic Tiger, it now appears that it is the people from this area who are the first to pay the price for problems which were not at all of their making. There is a link between areas which suffer from high levels of unemployment and crime levels in those areas. I have therefore made employment my priority for my term of office as Lord Mayor of Dublin. Many of you will be aware that I have established the Lord Mayor’s Commission on Employment and I have recently issued a Call for Ideas and Actions to give expression to the fear anger frustration of the ordinary citizen on the one hand while enabling and empowering all citizens to be part of the solution. I would welcome submissions form individuals and organisations present here today.
I want to pay special tribute to the work of the Gardai in the North Inner City, Store Street, Fitzgibbon Street, the Bridewell and Mountjoy. The Gardai in the Central Area under the stewardship of the Chief Superintendent, Mick Feehan, understood the importance of community policing and embraced it. The community was welcomed into the Garda Station where regular meetings were held and the joined forces with the Gardai in combating crime.
I was delighted to learn of Mick Feehan’s recent elevation to Assistant Commissioner for Dublin and look forward to working with him in the future. I have already had a meeting with the newly appointed Assistant Commissioner for Dublin and have outlined my concerns regarding crime in the City. We have also discussed the possibility of the Gardai making a submission to the Development Plan, to ensure that the communities we design for the future, take full cognisence of crime prevention measures from the outset.
The theme of the Conference “Reform and Renewal” is particularly timely and important. After ten very successful years, it is important to take stock and to evaluation successes, identify continuning blockages and map out a route forward for the next decade and beyond. This is particularly important and timely with new legislation coming into force regarding the operation of the Joint Policing Committees which operate through the Local Authorities. I also want to welcome Chief Superintendent Pat Leahy who has done fantastic work with the Central Area Joint Policing Committee in terms of ensuring it retains a strong focus on the real issues facing the City.
One of the successes of the CPF is how it has engaged the support of all of the public representatives from the Central Area. The contribution of all public representatives to this process cannot be understated. It would not be an exaggeration to state that Dublin Central has the best public representatives in the country, all of whom work together for the benefit of their community. It has often been remarked how much co-operation there is between the councillors from all parties and none, and indeed the party affiliations are not at all distinguishable at Area Committee meetings.
As I mentioned at the outset, the North East Inner City Community Policing Forum was the first of its kind in the country and has been used as a template for other models of community policing throughout the country. The many achievements of the CPF can be traced back to the work and dedication of the staff of the Forum and the work of the voluntary Board of Directors who support them. Marie, Peter and Sheila have given two hundred per cent to their work and deserve a special vote of thanks from all of us for that.
Finally, the Community of the North Inner City who bought into the process of Community Policing and who give of their time voluntarily to attend the meetings, engage with the Gardai, public representatives and staff of the City Council to improve and develop their own communities are the mainstay of the CPF in the North Inner City. Without the level of community spirit and pride of place in their communities, our job as public representatives, staff of Dublin City Council and the Gardai would be so much more difficult.
I thank you all for your contribution to our community and our City and I wish you well with your deliberations for this conference. I am confident that the CPF will continue to grow from strength to strength and I look forward to the next ten years and beyond in that development.