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by Cathal McCarthy
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On 30th March 2010, I was invited to attend an advance screening of Beyond The Roundabout, a film by independent film-maker, Nicky Larkin. As someone who had worked closely with Nicky while he was in Limerick, I was anxious to see the finished product. I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised, by the film.

Nicky first contacted me in February 2009; he left a message on my phone, hoping that I was the right Cathal McCarthy, and saying that he had been contracted by the Belltable Arts Centre to make a film about regeneration from the residents point of view. As an Independent Community Activist living in a regeneration area I couldn't believe my ears, it sounded to good to be true. I returned Nicky's call and invited him to my home in Weston Gardens for a meeting.

Nicky reiterated that he was given a grant to make a film about regeneration from the residents point of view and that he needed to interview residents who were 'for' and 'against' it. He told me that he had been in Limerick a month and could find no one willing to help him and that he was afraid to venture into regeneration areas on his own.

I explained that there wasn't opposition to regeneration as such, but that many residents were concerned by the way in which it was been carried out, that many areas were now in worse condition than they were before the establishment of the Regeneration Agencies in September 2007. Anti-social behaviour was rampant and illegal dumping was rife.

But it wasn't all doom and gloom; residents were beginning to organise independently and groups like the Moyross Residents Alliance and the Weston Gardens Residents' Association (of which I am the Chair) were linking in with residents from other areas and demanding that the state and its agencies ensure that we live in a clean, safe and secure area while awaiting regeneration.

We had called on the Regeneration Agencies to sponsor a clean-up of all areas under their remit.

In this regard, Nicky's timing couldn't have been better, I had petitioned the EU and was invited to Brussels for an oral hearing. I led a delegation of residents from regeneration areas under the banner of Limerick Regeneration Watch. We succeeded and embarrassed the Regeneration Agencies into sponsoring a clean-up. Nicky filmed the whole event but it doesn't even get a mention in his film.

While it is claimed that Beyond the Roundabout was filmed over an 8-month period, in reality it was more like 4-weeks. However, Nicky Larkin did rent an apartment in Limerick City for 8-months. Although he told me that he would be in Limerick for 12 months.

I was there for most of the filming, most of which was shot sporadically in May and June 2009. During this time Nicky asked me if I would be willing to be named as producer in the credits, saying that without me he wouldn't have any material to work with. At the time I agreed, as I believed that Nicky was committed to giving voice to residents' grievances and aspirations.

Nicky had promised me from the beginning that he would contrast the pride that many residents' took in their homes with the boarded up houses that many are forced to live next to. Many well-kept gardens were filmed, including an allotment in Southill, but none are shown in Nicky's film.

I had also arranged most of the interviews, many of which never happened owing to Nicky's absence (he was either back home in Birr, up in Dublin or out of the country - Nicky is now based out in Amsterdam). I had also arranged for interviews with residents' from St. Mary's Park as well as a boat ride around the Island Field, but Nicky told me that he wasn't interested, saying he had enough footage already. St. Mary's Park is the only regeneration area not seen in the film.

The only time I refused to help Nicky in his endeavors was when he asked me if I could get someone to pose for his camera while wearing a hoodie and brandishing a gun (at this point I began to question his motives and doubt his sincerity). Instead, Nicky had to make do with getting a youth in Moyross to pretend he was firing a machine gun. This image appears to have been chosen to promote the film abroad.

As I said earlier, I believed that Nicky would give voice to residents' grievances and aspirations. While filming in O'Malley Park, Southill, a group of girls (aged 5-6) were playing on the rock armour next to their homes, Nicky had asked their mothers permission to film them and while he did so I asked them what they wanted most from regeneration. One girl answered, "We want a playground", with this the other girls joined in and began to chant, "we want a playground, we want a playground, we want a playground". This is not featured in film; although the little girl is seen in the film, her voice is covered by white noise and echoing sound effects!

In my view, the dominant voice in Beyond The Roundabout is not that of the residents, but of Brendan Kenny, CEO of Limerick's Regeneration Agencies. Mr. Kenny laments the fact that his agencies had to sponsor a clean-up of the areas under his remit and talks about the Fitzgerald Report as if it's being implemented.

The first recommendation of the Fitzgerald Report was to establish a dedicated Garda service for the regeneration areas. This never happened and I, with other residents pointed this out in our interviews with Nicky, but none of it made it into the film. It is because of such deliberate omissions that I have asked that my name be removed from the credits along with the 30 seconds or less where I speak.

I suppose its true what they say, "he who pays the piper calls the tune" and I shouldn't have expected any less from someone who is dependent on government-sponsored grants for a living.

- Cathal McCarthy
Independent Community Activist
5 Weston Gardens, Rosbrien, Limerick
087 29 29 676



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