Baineann mo cheist leis an Mol Digiteach i mBaile Átha Cliath 8. This is vital infrastructure in an area that suffered from inaction for many generations and that is still suffering from it in some cases. The area has a low level of educational attainment and a high unemployment rate. It is recognised throughout Dublin and beyond for its concentration of local authority housing complexes, or flats. Also in the area is Guinness, with all the employment it has brought.
I was elected in 2002 and the Digital Hub started in 2003. I was a champion of it from day one because it was located in the Liberties to play a major role not only in trying to regenerate the area but also in linking in to the community. It has done tremendous work over 20 years in reaching out to and helping communities. It has also done tremendous work in the educational field, including in local schools, and has encouraged people one might not have thought would have had a chance in the world of being employed by one of the companies in the hub. The hub is to the fore in this regard.
In 2011, a decision was made that the Digital Hub Development Agency, DHDA, should be merged. In 2013, it was announced that it would be merged with Dublin City Council, or that the council would take care over its governance. Since then, I have continuously asked for word on this in the Dáil Chamber only to discover last year that there was a Grant Thornton review. It took a year for the Minister to look at it. I do not know why it took that long. Then, lo and behold, out of the blue and with no logic whatsoever, a decision was made to end one of the most successful regeneration initiatives in the Liberties, Dublin, send the companies out of the area and build more houses. While I agree we need more housing now, including houses for families, this is a land grab by the Land Development Agency, LDA. Somebody else can talk about what the Land Development Agency stands for. My biggest problem is that although we have been told continuously for the past several years that there is a need for sustainable jobs and communities, an initiative that has already proven to be sustainable is being closed down. The jobs will move out to the suburbs. That is not sustainable. It means people living in the area have to move and travel to work. This area has shown over the years that industry, big and small, can co-live with communities. There are many other sites on city council or State land that could be utilised for housing in the area. There is even land within the Digital Hub area that is surplus to requirements, or not suited to its requirements, that could have been earmarked for housing. To collapse the Digital Hub in the way the Minister is suggesting is absolutely illogical and ridiculous, and it needs to be reversed.