Fred Bassett’s Manifesto
Elections: Saturday 8th February 2020
Government’s response to bloody Hutch-Kinahan feud blasted as ‘con job’
The mob war has left 18 men dead – many of them gunned down in the streets of Dublin’s north Inner city
The Government response to Ireland’s bloodiest gangland feud has been blasted as a “con job”.
The Kinahan-Hutch mob war has left 18 men dead – many of them gunned down in the streets of Dublin’s north inner city.
But while the guns have fallen silent in recent months in the face of a Garda crackdown, the scars and trauma remain in the communities ravaged by the bloodshed.
And the streets that were littered with bodies are now littered with broken Government promises to the community according to inner city native and election hopeful Gary Gannon.
In an interview with the Irish Mirror he slammed the Government response to the Mulvey Report set up in the wake of the feud which erupted during the 2016 election campaign.
“It was the biggest con job I’ve ever seen. The Mulvey report gave Pascal Donohoe €5 million to walk around the north inner city almost like a Healy-Rae would in Kerry,” the Social Democrat councillor blasted.
“All Pascal Donohoe was able to do was bring that money and give it to the projects that he wants, there was no sense of measuring if people feel safer or not.
“There was no anti-poverty targets, no education attainment targets. It was basically just a pot of money and broken promises.”
The 32 year-old councillor is running for the Dail in Minister Donohoe’s Dublin Central constituency.
And he revealed crime is the number one issue people are bringing up on the city doorsteps.
Families in the area that was Ground Zero for Ireland’s original drug epidemic, now fear they are losing a new generation of their children to the crime lords.
They are being ensnared by the drug culture and lured into the underworld mobs with the false promise of fast cash.
“Families are getting a knock on the door and it is some thug outside asking them to effectively pay a ransom in the sense that their son owes a drug debt,” Cllr Gannon said.
“When I was growing up around here you knew there was drug dealers but they left you alone. Nowadays they have the kids holding drugs for them. They have them holding their weapons.
“That is why I want to introduce grooming legislation and I am calling it grooming legislation because I want them to know what they are doing to these kids is grooming them into a life of crime.
“And I want to target them for that offence specifically. We need to stop the conveyor belt of young men being recruited.”
Cllr Gannon is tipped to challenge for the fourth seat in Dublin Central against the Green Party’s Neasa Hourigan and Labour’s Joe Costelloe, with Pascal Donohoe, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald and Fianna Fail’s Mary Fitzpatrick also expected to be elected here.
If he succeeds he will be part of a Social Democrat grouping that may find itself being courted by the big parties to help form the next Government.
Gangland Grooming laws will be one key demand for his support. Another will be the re-opening of Fitzgibbon Street Garda station.
There is fury in this area that the Fine Gael led Government prioritised the re-opening of Stepaside station in Transport Minister Shane Ross’s back yard while Fitzgibbon Street remained shuttered despite an explosion of underworld violence on its doorstep.
Just last month the dismembered head of mob victim Keane Mulready was found in a burning car minutes from the disused station which Fine Gael committed to re-opening in 2016.
“Can you imagine how people feel around here when there is that sense of fear when they see Stepaside Garda station being re-opened and Fitzgibbon Street has a hoarding around it,” Cllr Gannon blasted.
“I would be insisting on re-opening it because we actually need it. Not because it’s a political stroke, not in a ‘Ross kind of way’.
“Whatever legitimacy Fine Gael said they had on crime, it dissolved when they opened a police station on a political stroke.”
Childcare and housing are the next two issues most frequently raised by people in this sprawling city constituency.
Both are impacted by the added pressure of having the new ‘Techtopia’ of the Silicon Docks and the IFSC competing for scarce space and resources in the city centre.
Locals here now fear the “gentrification” that has followed the digital giants in other cities where original inhabitants got squeezed out of their own streets and homes.
“When apartments go up and you are charged two grand plus for rent and they are only single units as opposed to the family units we need, it does create the sense that the community is being pushed out,” Cllr Gannon admitted.
“It obviously creates tension. We are increasingly being pushed out over the course of 40 years. I don’t mind the idea of a mixed community as long as we maintain the heart of the community that existed previously.
“Kids that grew up around here deserve the opportunity to live around here.”
The Dail hopeful has also noted a new phenomenon of workers at the tech giants and IFSC multi-nationals starting to show up at local creches looking for childcare spots that can’t be found elsewhere.
He added: “My ma works in the creche in Sheriff St and for the first time they do have families coming in from the IFSC wanting to bring their kids in. I think it makes a good mix. But it demonstrates there is an absence of facilities throughout the country.
“There is an insurance timebomb coming in terms of creches. I think the first big challenge of whatever Government is formed after this election is to confront the childcare crisis and timebomb that is coming in relation to insurance.”
In running for election in Dublin Central, Cllr Gannon is following in the footsteps of the legendary Tony Gregory. The ‘Gregory seat’ has been held by TD Maureen O’Sullivan in recent years but she has now retired.
Despite not being an independent, Cllr Gannon was endorsed by Mick Rafferty, Gregory’s right hand man and an architect of the famous deal that delivered millions to renovate the inner city in the 80s.
He describes the late Dail maverick as “a hero” but thinks he can better deliver his own deal to inner city inhabitants as part of a national party.
Among the things he would like in any new deal is to decarbonise the streets he grew up in.
“In terms of the toxicity levels in the air from the number of cars driving in and out of the city, this area is impacted more than most by the effects of climate change,” he said.
“When I got elected in 2014 the idea of decarbonising Dublin wasn’t even in my vocabulary. But you can’t be a politician around the inner city and not appreciate the fact that people are being poisoned. The toxicity levels in the inner city are higher than anywhere else. It’s essential that we decarbonise our city.”
As he canvasses yards from the former home of Bram Stoker, Cllr Gannon reveals he would also like to reclaim the night.
He is a supporter of the concept of a ‘Night Mayor’ for the capital where he says citizens – especially women and young girls – no longer feel safe.
“A night mayor is not just a nightclub promoter it’s about having a person who is in charge of the street lighting, working with the business community to provide extended opening hours and with Dublin Bus on 24 bus services, to have a cultural programme that extends beyond nine in the evening into the early hours and giving people a reason to come into the city not just to drink.”
One landmark building that may become part of that renewal is the former Magdalene Laundry on Sean McDermott Street where Cllr Gannon is now standing.
He campaigned to save it from being turned into a chain hotel. It will now be used for housing units for the elderly, a third level education facility and a memorial to the horrors inflicted on those forced into slavery behind its walls.
He added: “There is nowhere around here to even have a coffee at the minute. If we get that site right, it’s creating a place in the heart of the inner city which is about rebirth and renewal.”
Fred, sadly too many Lives lost, and Families in Tatters.