Fatima Mansions was built in the post-war period as part of Dublin City Council’s inner city housing renewal programme. For the first three decades, the residents of Fatima were relatively settled and part of the typical working class community of the inner city area.
In the seventies and early nineteen-eighties, however, the downsizing and closure of many local industries, which were a significant source of employment to residents, had a detrimental and destablising effect. Problems of chronic unemployment were further compounded when heroin and other drugs began to flood inner city communities.
Throughout the seventies and eighties social conditions in Fatima Mansions began to steadily deteriorate. The Housing Surrender Grant, which encouraged tenants to surrender their flat in return for a grant to enable them to purchase their own home as a policy measure to free up social housing, also contributed to many of the stronger families deciding to leave the community.
By the early eighties, Fatima had become one of the most notorious local authority flat complexes in Dublin, even in Ireland. It was synonymous with the worst social conditions of deprivation and disadvantage, chronic levels of early school leaving and unemployment, a magnet for anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and associated criminality.
In response to the above, Dublin City Council invested in a substantial refurbishment of the flat complex in the late nineteen-eighties at a significant cost for the time of £5 million pounds. In the absence of any measures to address the social problems of families living in the scheme, however, the improvements were quickly undermined and the complex deteriorated further.