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Speech by Mr. Brian Lenihan T.D., Minister for Children at the presentation of the South West Inner City Network’s Youth Achievement Awards

Tuesday 28th November 2006 at St Catherine’s Church, Thomas Street, Dublin 8


It is a great pleasure for me to be here tonight to officiate at the presentation of the Youth Achievement Awards and I would like to express my sincere thanks to Marie Stanley, Chairperson, South West Inner City Network for inviting me to attend.

Awards like this do not happen by themselves. They need a vibrant, hard working team to drive it forward and plan its success and I would like to say a special thanks to all associated with organising these proceedings and to St. Catherine’s for being our host venue for this special event tonight.

South West Inner City Network

I very much appreciate the valuable work and role played by the many groups and organisations around the country who are proactively involved in promoting and facilitating the development of their local communities. The South West Inner City Network is a community development umbrella organisation which represents close to fifty community and voluntary organisations in the South West inner city area of Dublin. Since its establishment in 1994 it has continuously provided a forum where issues affecting the community are identified and collective action is taken to address them.

I am greatly impressed by the sheer commitment and unbridled enthusiasm of the members of the Network which down through the years, has provided a strong level of community support to improve outcomes in the inner city area. In facilitating a co-ordinated and integrated approach to dealing with problems in the area the Network aims:

  • To enable and support people to have a choice in what happens to them and in the development of their area;
  • To create greater awareness of the issues affecting people's lives and to promote appropriate action to deal with them; and 
  •  To ensure that the area and its people receive a fair share of available resources, both National and European.

I am sure you will all join with me in paying tribute to all those involved in the South West Inner City Network who work so tirelessly, with enthusiasm and commitment, to achieve these aims. I wish you all every success in your continuing endeavours in this regard for the future.

Youth Achievement Awards

On behalf of everyone present here tonight, I would like to commend the South West Inner City Network who, in association with An Garda Síochána, Kevin Street have been organising these awards since 1999. The Youth Achievement Awards formally recognise and acknowledge the achievements and the good work being done by the young people in the area. The awards also highlight the positive aspects of this vibrant community and the fact that the majority of young people in the area are not involved in drugs, crime and anti-social behaviour, despite the area being portrayed as having many such social problems.

It is heartening to see so many young people involving themselves in the life of their local community. I am pleased to see that the Awards tonight cover five broad categories of achievement which includes Sport, Personal Development, Community Involvement, Academic Development and Group.  Each of these offer young people opportunities not only for personal development but also the chance to help their communities.  The fifth category acknowledges the importance of bestowing recognition on the achievements of young people working together in groups. 

I know that the award ceremony tonight is a very important event for the South West Inner City Network and has grown in popularity over the last number of years. I would like to especially thank the Selection Committee - Superintendent Thady Muldoon, Kevin Street Garda Station, Evan Moore, Chief Executive Officer of the Network and Sladjana  Malich, South Inner City Drugs Education/Prevention Officer for their enormous help in adjudicating on the award nominations and the many sponsors for their generous and valuable support in making this event possible.

South West Inner City Community Policing Forum

I would like at this stage to say a few brief words about the South West Inner City Community Policing Forum which has been in operation for a number of years and acts as a communication mechanism between the various representatives groups in the community and the Gardaí. The Forum usually meets once a month at which issues relating to anti-social behaviour and policing matters are meaningfully discussed.

I understand that the Community Policing Forum has proven to be a very effective framework in building on the good relationship that exists between the Gardaí and the local communities. It has also been instrumental in working towards the creation of a safer community environment for all who live and work in the area and in developing proactive approaches to address identified concerns and potential problems.

There is no doubt that initiatives such as the Community Policing Forum and the Youth Achievement Awards play a very valuable role in building and maintaining communities and are a testament to the commitment, vision and partnership approach of the community. I very much welcome and support collaborative approaches such as these within local communities.

Of course the real stars of tonight’s proceedings are the recipients of the awards and I know you are all quite anxious to hear the announcement of the winners of the 2006 Youth Achievement Awards. So to conclude, I would like to avail of the opportunity to extend my warm congratulations to all concerned and to wish them every success in the future.