The power of local neighbourhoods, from the Liberties to Garryowen, highlighted in six new reports

Sep 30 2016 Posted: 23:59 IST
  • Minister Katherine Zappone to launch reports at NUI Galway today.
  • Voices of children and youth, older people and people with disabilities central to the research.

Revealing insights into six neighbourhoods in Dublin, Limerick and Galway are published today by NUI Galway.  With huge community participation, the research is the result of a three-year programme of work, the 3-Cities Project, by the Institute for Lifecourse and Society at NUI Galway. Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone T.D. will formally launch the research later today at the University.

While the research included city-wide data-collection, the primary focus centred on six very different kinds of communities across the three cities. These included: the Liberties and East Wall (Dublin); Doughiska and Claddagh (Galway); and Garryowen and South Circular Road (Limerick).

Dr Kieran Walsh of the Institute for Lifecourse and Society at NUI Galway, said: “In the first study of its kind, our research looked at shared challenges and opportunities with respect to participation for three groups. We wanted to hear the voice of children and youth, older people and people with disabilities. They were central to the research process and we have learned so much from their experiences of living in these areas and how things like services and sense of community effect their day to day lives.”

The research focused on these groups as, while they possess a diverse set of abilities and backgrounds, they can in some cases be susceptible to limitations in choice and mobility.

“This is why local neighbourhoods are so important for such residents. Children, older people, and those living with disabilities spend so much time within the neighbourhood. One recurring theme is that as life goes on, people may have to regularly leave where they live to access services, whether that’s disability services or sports activities for older teenagers.”

“We met some really engaging people who pointed out the good and bad of where they live. Neighbourhood change, major life events, local service adequacy, feelings of belonging and social cohesion. These all influence the capacity of the three groups to participate in a full and meaningful way”, continued Dr Walsh.

The reports found that structural forms of disadvantage, as a result of political prioritisation, gentrification and development processes, and macro-economic shifts, can intensify the potential for poor participation in different areas of life. This included social relations, economic roles, cultural activities and civic participation. 

The 3-Cities Project points to the need for future interventions and polices around development of voice-led multi-stakeholder partnerships, fostering collective ownership, integrative collision spaces, and neighbourhood asset planning for enablement across the life course.

Suggested solutions are prominent in the reports. With regard to the development of ‘integrative collision spaces’ or spaces where people could meet and interact, Dr Walsh said: “We heard about the importance of the annual fair in Garryowen. We had the suggestion of a pop-up café in Lidl in the Liberties, or ‘retrofitting’ somewhere like Merlin Woods in Doughiska to offer social spaces for people.

What is very clear is the enabling power of local neighbourhoods for potentially marginalised groups, and that participants in this research really emphasised how these settings can facilitate participation and, potentially, serve as a very important mechanism for societal integration.”

Full copies of the reports are available at


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