Community leaders and residents in Dolphin House and Park, located just off the South Circular Road in Dublin’s South Inner City, have had enough of broken promises, politicians saying money is no problem, and ministers saying planning could be fast-tracked.

They want a dedicated senior manager appointed with powers to move regeneration forward, and they made this point forcefully today at a press briefing held in the area.

The community leaders are desperate to break the logjam, and they have written to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission complaining about repeated and “deliberate” delays by the State and Dublin City Council.

The flats were built in 1957 and are now in very poor condition. When residents move out or pass away the windows and doors are shuttered, which breaks the strong sense of community that has prevailed for decades.

It is a neighbourly and proud working class community that battles against disadvantage, say community leaders. Generations of families live together, providing vital support to each other.

However, community leaders today warned: “Housing conditions in the unregenerated estate include mould, damp, overcrowding and anti-social behaviour. The community is in danger of crumbling under the weight of this neglect. Ill health and mental health challenges are a feature of daily life.”

“Dolphin House and Park sits on 18.5 acres and comprises of 436 homes, made up of 392 flats in six blocks. It was promised a full regeneration over 20 years ago, but only a quarter was completed, leaving the majority in squalid conditions.”

– This was once a football pitch, until half of it was taken for development and the remainder let turn into waste ground


Fergus Finlay and Una Lowry said: “For more than three years there has been an agreed masterplan to complete the regeneration.”

They added that the plan would provide more than 700 high quality social housing units “in the midst of an overwhelming housing crisis”.

Fergus, the well-known former head of Barnardos, is chair of Dolphin House Regeneration Board. Una, who serves as CEO of Dublin South City Partnership, is chair of Dolphin House Community Development Association.

In the wider area, they and others have identified other regeneration projects “all stuck in similar ways to us” that between them could contribute 2,500 new high quality social housing units.

“We have met the Minister for Housing who has told us that he finds these timelines indefensible. A Cabinet sub-committee meeting on December 16 last issued an instruction that the timelines were to be shortened.

“Every government minister and public representative to whom we have spoken has assured us that money is not the problem. Not a single one of them has said that the lack of progress is appropriate or defensible.

“Yet nothing has happened and conditions in the estate continue to deteriorate. Many longstanding families have given up hope in the regeneration process and are seeking to leave – we are witnessing the breakup of a community.

“On behalf of the community in Dolphin House we are today launching a Human Rights campaign against the broken promises of the State and Dublin City Council in regard to the regeneration of Dolphin.

“As a first step we have written to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, asking them to initiate an enquiry under Section 35 of the Human Rights Act,” they revealed.

The Act provides for such an enquiry in a situation where there is a serious violation of human rights or equality of treatment obligations in respect of any group of citizens, or a systemic failure to comply with human rights.

“We have sought advice to be sure that that situation applies here,” added the community spokespeople.

• Photo courtesy of Dolphin House Community Centre from earlier this year.