Opinion: Kenny's inner-city safari smacks of tokenism

Dublin author Frankie Gaffney pulls no punches on the city's newest taskforce

Frankie Gaffney, opnion, north inner-city, Dublin, gangland, taskforce, Enda Kenny

Frankie Gaffney

This is not the first time Enda Kenny has been to the north inner-city.

The visit that sticks in my mind most is when he came to Croke Park for a Bruce Springsteen gig. Candid mobile phone footage showed An Taoiseach dancing ebulienty to the Boss's back catalogue. It was a rare unguarded moment in which Kenny let his metaphorical hair down.

Who could begrudge An Taoiseach a night off? Those who took exception to his behaviour were widely derided as cruel cynics, even cyber-bullies.

The irony of his performance was utterly lost on those who leapt to his defence, as if he was some innocent pre-teen being poked fun at by the cool-crowd at school.

One of Springsteen's signatures as a songwriter is his biting social commentary, and dedication to workers' rights and economic equality.

To put it mildly, the sentiment expressed in the songs Enda danced to that night are not of a world view he shares.

Baby this town rips the bones from your back, It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap . . .

Families sleeping in their cars in the southwest No home no job no peace no rest.

Enda Kenny has presided over the biggest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the history of the State.

Dancing unselfconsciously to lyrics like these is like Vladimir Putin giving it socks to Village People's YMCA. His carefree enjoyment of this concert in the heart of a north inner-city in crisis called to mind Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

Optics are important. Nobody knows this better than Kenny.

His response to issues in troubled areas like the north inner-city have been all style and zero substance.

Irrespective of belated jaunts into deprived communities, his initial response to the feud was revealing.

He very vocally promised to give gardaí whatever resources they required, including UZI submachine guns. But of course, an army of heavily armed gardaí on the streets didn't stop murders being carried out there.

There is no policing solution to gangland violence.

While prohibition persists gangsters will have money and power. This lesson was learned in Chicago in the 1920s.

Kenny should spend less time imitating American air-guitar solos and more time reading US history books.

Meanwhile, the OECD has been trying to do its bit to prevent another economic meltdown, a financial crisis like the one which destroyed this country's economy, saw tens of thousands emigrate, and led us into a situation (like the one Springsteen sings about) where 10 people every week commit suicide.

While the Taoiseach blustered about re-equipping gardaí, the OECD was trying to do its work without a single forensic accountant to tackle white-collar crime (despite it being recommended they have a team of six accountants for this task, their single accountant was transferred to other duties earlier this year).

This is in the wake of continuing revelations about NAMA, a body set up to help remedy our economic woes but already mired in scandal.

The Taoiseach is spending time setting up a dedicated taskforce to tackle gangland crime, but the murder rate has actually fallen in the last few years.

Yet the gargantuan systemic cancer at the heart of our economy - criminality, incompetence and lack of accountability in our financial sectors - remains perversely under-resourced. Have we learned nothing?

Like many ordinary people, I don't want to see any more attention on the north inner-city. I don't want to see more garda resources vainly squandered targeting working-class areas, a war on drugs that is really only a war on poor people who take drugs.

I want to see sincere efforts to address corruption and incompetence at the top of the ladder, not the bottom.

If the Taoiseach wants to fix our broken society with a visit to the north inner-city he should start with the IFSC.

Frankie Gaffney, who came of age in Dublin's north inner-city, is currently undertaking a PhD at Trinity College. His first novel, 'Dublin Seven', details a young man's descent into the criminal underworld.