SEPT. 2013: ST. MARY'S COMMUNITY GROUP RESIGN EN MASSE
On Monday, 4th September 2013, it was reported by Limericks Live 95 fm that "a community group in St Mary's Park has resigned en masse in a row with Limerick City Council over the direction of the massive regeneration project. The nine-person group said they have no confidence in the current process as their concerns are being ignored by council officials. They believe the massive project has started going backwards since the local authority took over running the scheme over a year ago."
Former resident Carmel Duggan is Secretary of the St Mary's Park Community Group and expressed the groups concerns in an interview with Joe Nash for the stations Limerick Today Show on Tuesday: click here to listen.
The views of St. Mary's Park residents were aired by the show on Wednesday, highlighting the degeneration of the area and fact that residents are not being listened to or properly consulted by anyone: click here to listen.
Later on, in a live interview with Limerick City Council's Jason Murphy, it was claimed that the opposite was true, that residents were properly engaged with and that the Director of Regeneration, Oliver O'Loughlin, would be meeting with the St. Mary's Park Community Group on Friday: click here to listen.
Listeners reactions to Mr. Murphy's interview were scathing and a comment from Ms. Duggan challenged Mr. Murphy's claim that there was proper consultation, informing listeners that the nine-member group had no knowledge of any proposed meeting with Council officials click here to listen.
Comment: The resignation of the nine-member St. Mary's Park Community Group from their local Regeneration Committee is to be applauded as it serves to highlight the failed structures for real community participation and the lack of meaningful involvement of residents in the regeneration process.
However, it is difficult to accept this groups contention that these problems only materialised in the past year-and-a-half. St. Mary's Park, like the other target areas, has degenerated considerably over the past six-and-a-half years and throughout that period the now defunct Regeneration Agencies had carefully selected residents, ex-residents and community workers (as can be found in the St. Mary's Park Community Group) to act as token community representatives so that they could claim to the wider community and the rest of the world that they were "engaging positively" with our communities.
Very few residents were aware of these 'community reps' and their role. Indeed, many 'reps' were actively encouraged not to engage openly with their own communities. The local "regeneration" committees were never empowered to make decisions and even if they were, residents would still be outnumbered and outvoted. Ultimately, the only right that the 'reps' have on these committees is the right to be ignored.
It is only through localised Community elections to establish power-sharing regeneration boards that we will see an end to this practice of selective inclusion and token representation.
It is our sincere hope that the St. Mary's Park Community Group will seek a mandate from the residents of St. Mary's Park and will not return to unreformed structures in exchange for the promise of change in the future; that they will join with the Weston Gardens Residents' Association, the Moyross Residents' Alliance, the Ballinacurra Weston Residents' Alliance and the Kincora & Carew Parks Concerned Residents Action Group in calls for the immediate implementation of the Nexus Report, which provides a framework for enhanced community participation and the reform of local Estate Management.
In his interview, Mr. Murphy attempted to trivialise residents collective concerns with illegal dumping, boarded-up houses and anti-social behaviour as "individual" matters that could be dealt with on a one-to-one basis. These are serious issues for all the targeted communities and the failure of "regeneration" to tackle them collectively and resolutely is an affront to our human rights.
We have a right to live in a clean, safe and secure environment while we await regeneration and we have a right to a real say in the decisions that impact on our lives.
Limerick Regeneration Watch recieved a muted reception from the St. Mary's Park Community Group and their supporters when seeking their views on why they were protesting. The video from 2011 highlights the fact that residents were never happy with the manner in which "regeneration" was been carried out.