I should like to thank the Chair for giving me permission to raise this matter and to indicate that I propose, with the agreement of the House, to share my time with Deputies Flaherty and Michael Barrett.
In September 1987 the people of Ballymun came together with the statutory organisations, local community organisations and the TDs for the area, to establish a task force. The purpose of the task force was not to produce another report about Ballymun, of which there were more than enough, telling us what was wrong. The idea was to draw together the wisdom of those reports and the experience of the people of the area to produce an action programme for the Ballymun area which would lead to a renewal of the area. They worked so well and so hard together that within six months they had an interim report and proposals to present to the Minister for the Environment. The Minister duly endorsed them and promised to provide funds to the tune of £4.5 million. Subsequently that sum of money was reduced for the year 1989 to £0.345 million. We did not make too much of a fuss about that because we knew that the £4.5 million could not be spent in one year.
We were pleased with the Minister's commitment within six months of the report of the task force, indeed, the people of the area were pleased with the Minister's commitment. The Minister visited the area and the assistant city manager for Dublin Corporation declared that this was a new dawn for Ballymun. We were delighted with the decision and the people of the area waited each day for the work to start but as we approach the end of February 1990 work has not started.
The task force have followed the conditions laid down by the Minister with regard to consultation and the involvement of local people and local organisations. They followed their requirements in regard to trying to get in place a local maintenance structure for the area. They are at a loss to know why this necessary work to revive the Ballymun estate has not yet started. We were told that the first phase would start by July 1988. That was deferred to the autumn of 1988 and then we were told it would start in early 1989. That was deferred to the middle of 1989 and then to the end of 1989. Finally, tenders were sought for the work and although the officials of Dublin Corporation have a negotiated tendering procedure, the Department insisted on public tendering. Apparently that failed. The two companies which applied were told that they were uncompetitive. The whole business has now gone back into the melting pot.
On 29 January the corporation were informed that within a matter of days permission would be granted by the Department for the corporation to retender the work. Three weeks later the corporation still did not have sanction from the Department for the tendering of the work. I might well be forgiven for saying, what more can one expect because bureaucracy tends to work in a certain way and it is very hard to force it to work any faster than it is accustomed to working, but more than two years is too long for the people of Ballymun. They were led to believe from the start that once they got together this work would get under way.
I am appealing to the Minister to give permission tonight or tomorrow morning to the corporation to issue the tender documents for the contracts. There are two sections to the contract and this seems to be creating a problem for the Department. There is surplus remedial work to be done as well as restructuring work to be done and apparently the Department have insisted that the two must be brought together in order to have some illusory savings. As far as we can gather there are no savings involved. If the Department continue to insist on these two items being kept together it will be October at least before work starts in Ballymun. There is considerable annoyance and frustration in Ballymun at the way this matter has been delayed, not by the people in the area, not by the corporation, but by the Department of the Environment.
I am tonight pleading with the Minister to give permission for these contracts to be put out to tender so that the people of Ballymun can see something actually happening and some result for all the hard work they have put into producing a plan for Ballymun over the past two and a half years.
Deputy Flaherty rose.