March 2010, I was invited to attend an advance screening of
Beyond The Roundabout, a film by independent film-maker,
Nicky Larkin. As someone who had worked closely with Nicky while
he was in Limerick, I was anxious to see the finished product.
I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised, by the film.
first contacted me in February 2009; he left a message on my
phone, hoping that I was the right Cathal McCarthy, and saying
that he had been contracted by the Belltable Arts Centre to
make a film about regeneration from the residents point of view.
As an Independent Community Activist living in a regeneration
area I couldn't believe my ears, it sounded to good to be true.
I returned Nicky's call and invited him to my home in Weston
Gardens for a meeting.
reiterated that he was given a grant to make a film about regeneration
from the residents point of view and that he needed to interview
residents who were 'for' and 'against' it. He told me that he
had been in Limerick a month and could find no one willing to
help him and that he was afraid to venture into regeneration
areas on his own.
that there wasn't opposition to regeneration as such, but that
many residents were concerned by the way in which it was been
carried out, that many areas were now in worse condition than
they were before the establishment of the Regeneration Agencies
in September 2007. Anti-social behaviour was rampant and illegal
dumping was rife.
it wasn't all doom and gloom; residents were beginning to organise
independently and groups like the Moyross Residents Alliance
and the Weston Gardens Residents' Association (of which I am
the Chair) were linking in with residents from other areas and
demanding that the state and its agencies ensure that we live
in a clean, safe and secure area while awaiting regeneration.
called on the Regeneration Agencies to sponsor a clean-up of
all areas under their remit.
regard, Nicky's timing couldn't have been better, I had petitioned
the EU and was invited to Brussels for an oral hearing. I led
a delegation of residents from regeneration areas under the
banner of Limerick Regeneration Watch. We succeeded and embarrassed
the Regeneration Agencies into sponsoring a clean-up. Nicky
filmed the whole event but it doesn't even get a mention in
it is claimed that Beyond the Roundabout was filmed over
an 8-month period, in reality it was more like 4-weeks. However,
Nicky Larkin did rent an apartment in Limerick City for 8-months.
Although he told me that he would be in Limerick for 12 months.
there for most of the filming, most of which was shot sporadically
in May and June 2009. During this time Nicky asked me if I would
be willing to be named as producer in the credits, saying that
without me he wouldn't have any material to work with. At the
time I agreed, as I believed that Nicky was committed to giving
voice to residents' grievances and aspirations.
had promised me from the beginning that he would contrast the
pride that many residents' took in their homes with the boarded
up houses that many are forced to live next to. Many well-kept
gardens were filmed, including an allotment in Southill, but
none are shown in Nicky's film.
also arranged most of the interviews, many of which never happened
owing to Nicky's absence (he was either back home in Birr, up
in Dublin or out of the country - Nicky is now based out in
Amsterdam). I had also arranged for interviews with residents'
from St. Mary's Park as well as a boat ride around the Island
Field, but Nicky told me that he wasn't interested, saying he
had enough footage already. St. Mary's Park is the only regeneration
area not seen in the film.
only time I refused to help Nicky in his endeavors was when
he asked me if I could get someone to pose for his camera while
wearing a hoodie and brandishing a gun (at this point I began
to question his motives and doubt his sincerity). Instead, Nicky
had to make do with getting a youth in Moyross to pretend he
was firing a machine gun. This image appears to have been chosen
to promote the film abroad.
said earlier, I believed that Nicky would give voice to residents'
grievances and aspirations. While filming in O'Malley Park,
Southill, a group of girls (aged 5-6) were playing on the rock
armour next to their homes, Nicky had asked their mothers permission
to film them and while he did so I asked them what they wanted
most from regeneration. One girl answered, "We want
a playground", with this the other girls joined in
and began to chant, "we want a playground, we want a
playground, we want a playground". This is not featured
in film; although the little girl is seen in the film, her voice
is covered by white noise and echoing sound effects!
view, the dominant voice in Beyond The Roundabout is
not that of the residents, but of Brendan Kenny, CEO of Limerick's
Regeneration Agencies. Mr. Kenny laments the fact that his agencies
had to sponsor a clean-up of the areas under his remit and talks
about the Fitzgerald Report as if it's being implemented.
first recommendation of the Fitzgerald Report was to
establish a dedicated Garda service for the regeneration areas.
This never happened and I, with other residents pointed this
out in our interviews with Nicky, but none of it made it into
the film. It is because of such deliberate omissions that I
have asked that my name be removed from the credits along with
the 30 seconds or less where I speak.
its true what they say, "he who pays the piper calls
the tune" and I shouldn't have expected any less from
someone who is dependent on government-sponsored grants for
Independent Community Activist
5 Weston Gardens, Rosbrien, Limerick
087 29 29 676
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