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Axing of Ballymun-Whitehall Partnership is another nail in the coffin of local community services

The decision this week to axe Ballymun-Whitehall Partnership is an outright attack on local communities. Following a tender competition, the contract for services has been awarded to the Tolka Area Partnership.

Ballymun-Whitehall Partnership has been a key driver of progress before and since the Ballymun regeneration project. It provides absolutely vital services to Ballymun, Santry, Whitehall and parts of Ballygall and has underpinned a lot of the work of several partner community organisations such as the Job Centre, the drugs task force, youngBallymun and lots more. Some of the services now in jeopardy include the Care & Repair service, certain Education programmes, certain childcare services, and certain employment/enterprise services.

It just beggars belief that two decent community organisations, both with charitable status, were made to compete against one another to ensure their own survival. The whole process has divided communities at a time when they should be coming together to fight for their areas. Now there is huge uncertainty about local jobs and about local community services.

Questions also have to be asked as to why a Sinn Féin Councillor is signing off on this process. Sinn Féin sets itself up as a party of protest yet one of its own Councillors signed off on the decision.

However, the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the Government and in particular the Fine Gael mindset that dominates the Government. At the heart of this debacle is a belief, widely held in Fine Gael and especially among Fine Gael ministers, that such community organisations are a waste of money. They just couldn’t care less about these communities or the services that are delivered here because they have absolutely no understanding of life in a marginalised community. And sadly, it is yet another example of the Labour Party unable or unwilling to stand up for the people it is supposed to be representing.