A unique edition of Working Notes

June 10, 2024 in Featured News, News

The latest edition of Working Notes is a unique publication in the history of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, according to the JCFJ’s director Dr Kevin Hargaden. Its subtitle is ‘The Voices of the North East Inner City’. Dr Hargaden says this particular publication was in response to the 23 November 2023 riots in the area.

At short notice, the JCFJ called together a representative group of leaders and civic initiatives from the area with the idea of pooling their collective experience to frame the conversation about what was needed, especially with the local and European elections in mind.

Commenting on the “striking” contribution to the issue by retired Garda Superintendent Eunan Doyle, Dr Hargaden notes: “If this essay was properly digested in the corridors of power and the media headquarters of this city, it would prompt a wholesale transformation in official Ireland’s approach to the area. But what matters the most in this incendiary argument is that it just confirms what the residents of the North-East Inner City have known and have been saying for years: The residents of this part of the city are forgotten in favour of business interests and political rhetoric.” The JCFJ director adds that this particular Working Notes, issue 95, is an attempt “to fill the gulf that clearly has opened up between the ‘official’ understanding of the North-East Inner City (where JCFJ has always been based) and its reality.”

Many of the contributors attended the launch on Thursday 23 May, 2024 (see photo), including Niall Leahy SJ, PP of Gardiner St Church, who was editor for this special issue. “Every challenge facing this neighbourhood can be overcome by this neighbourhood,” said Fr Leahy. Kevin Hargaden noted that the papers sent to his office confirmed that fact. “Common themes emerged, including the centrality of education in whatever renewal project is imagined,” said Kevin. He added, “The work of grassroots initiatives like CASPr and the astonishing impact of the Early Learning Initiative out of the National College of Ireland bear witness to that reality.”

Another theme, addressed by Edmond Grace SJ in his comments at the launch, was the changing role of faith in the area. Comparing his present experience of the neighbourhood to what he knew when he was first here more than 20 years ago, Fr Grace noted how “this community is already living out the kind of cooperation and integration between different religions and cultures that some in more salubrious regions of the city might only lecture about.” The work of the Dublin City Inter-Faith Forum features in the issue and was mentioned by Fr Grace as “a shining light”. 

Local councillor Janet Horner – who Kevin said was hugely supportive of the project from its inception – talked about the resilience of the local community even though the riots and their aftermath have left a mark on the most marginalised there.

She spoke about women who were frightened to wear their head coverings lest it attract undue attention and the ability of small minorities to make a large noise. But she was clear that the strength of the community – which is on display in the issue – means that the official response [to the issues at hand] cannot be imposed from on high but needs to be properly democratic.

In his final comments, JCFJ Director Kevin Hargaden drew particular attention to the “Humans of the North-East Inner City” section developed by the JCFJ Communications Director, Cherise Boraski. It features the experience of Amy Cooney who was born and raised in the North East Inner City and who began asking herself some challenging questions when her first child was born.

Working Notes is typically published twice a year. It seeks to bring facts and analysis to contemporary questions facing Irish society. You can subscribe for free (digital or physical) here ».