Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Allotments in Southill? It's an idea at least

Through a happy mix of diggers and petrol bombs, Donogh O'Malley Park is becoming a rural landscape again as houses fall one row at a time.

The estate is still an abject sight of ruin and isolation. But there are shoots of ideas and creation under all that rubble.

Mattie Gardiner, who's lived in the estate since the 1970s, has spent the last three years tending to an allotment on land cleared after a row of houses was demolished.

He has strawberries, tomatoes, spuds, lettuce and carrots. He has dedication, ideas and pride.

His nephew Robert is running for the local elections, and is calling for more allotments to be provided for by the City Council in the space cleared by housing knocked for Regeneration.

Electioneering aside, it is clear that this land has to be used for something. It isn't sceptical to say that Regeneration won't get the money to build anything for at least a decade.

That's a bitter shame but it's a fact.

No doubt this idea will be dismissed by the local authority as too high an expense for a medium-term measure. But anything that would add any tint of character to an estate being drained of life cannot be dismissed.

It may be an unrealistic idea, but it is an idea nonetheless. Too much of our time and thought and energy has been lost to complaints and cynicism these days.

Fresh thinking should be celebrated in a city that seems bereft of it.

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