With 10,000 homeless and thousands more in insecure, unaffordable or unsuitable accommodation, Dublin’s housing crisis is one of the biggest issues of our time. We simply need to do better. The only way to do that is build. We have viable, developable land all over Dublin but time and time again we do not plan for social and affordable housing properly in new builds. In a city with so many homeless it is simply appalling to have so many derelict and vacant properties. The current threshold for a property to be deemed derelict is too high. Properties may be derelict but unless they have visible structural damage, officials are slow to categorise them as derelict. The 3 percent charge on derelict sites is also far too low and does not incentivise the property owners to act, we need to push for a higher levy so that derelict sites can be revitalised and become new homes. We need a new model for renting similar to what can be seen in cities across Europe, America and Asia. We need to look at introducing rent control, as well as cost rental schemes. Cost rental is where rent charged is used to cover the cost of constructing the accommodation over the life of a long-term building loan. This enables the government to plan affordable housing and to continue to build homes even during a downturn. A cost rental scheme is due to come online in Shankill soon, if elected to Dublin City Council I would work to bring similar schemes to the city centre.
In a modern and prosperous society like Ireland, and more specifically Dublin, housing should be a basic right for all. How this is delivered is another question. Dublin City Council needs to be actively fast-tracking derelict sites around the city is order to meet the shortfall in supply. I would aim to put motions forward to fast-track this process.
As a councillor, most of the actual powers I would have are directly related to the delivery of housing, including adopting a budget, borrowing money, disposing land held by Dublin City Council, making a development plan and zoning and re-zoning of land. Dublin City Council has a revenue budget of €1 billion for 2019 which is more than ten national government departments are allocated for the same year. There is no greater obligation on a councillor in the next five years than to help increase the supply of both social and affordable housing in this city. I want to ensure that the money that will be spent, and the powers that we can deploy deliver for the housing demands of this city.
I will continue to actively initiate new housing schemes as I have done in the past – examples include new housing in Spenser Street and 35 new homes that we built on my own estate in Beech Hill in Donnybrook. I will work to ensure that the agreement we reached on 900 social and affordable homes as part of the Poolbeg agreement are delivered and I will press for direct delivery by the council of additional and new types of housing. Solving the housing crisis is not rocket science – it has been done in the past and we can do it again. Essentially, it involved direct social and affordable housing delivery by the council and through local agreements with voluntary housing bodies.
The major impediment to increasing the supply of social housing is the approval process which can take up to five years.
We need models like we have in other European cities, in US cities like New York, and in Asian cities like Hong Kong, where there is rent control. In addition there need to be more cost-rental schemes available. There is one to come online in Shankill, but we need more. Cost-rental, simply put, is where rent charged is used to cover the cost of constructing the accommodation over the life of a long-term building loan. This enables the government to plan affordable housing and to continue to build homes even during a downturn.
Rent pressure zones have made little impact on the affordability in Dublin. The issue is supply and the quicker this is addressed the more affordable rent will become. I would aim to speed up the processes for fast-tracking applications plans.
Dublin City Council has a massive role to play in the affordability of rent in Dublin city. The latest figures show that the council has a housing stock of 24,454 houses and apartments, making it 12 times the size of the largest private landlord in the country. I want to use my actual powers as a councillor and consequent responsibilities over this existing housing stock to help increase affordability of rent in the private rental sector.
This will be tackled through a mixture of legislation and supply. On the legislative side my party and I have a long track record of supporting tenants' rights and on supply I will continue to push for more build.
Factory-built modular apartments stacked on top of existing buildings.
It may sound simple, but you reduce homelessness by providing more housing.
For me, homelessness is unacceptable in 2019. Cross-agency work needs to happen in order to make sure no one finds themselves in this situation. Linking back to supply we need to make sure no one finds themselves without a roof over their head.
I recently held a public meeting with Peter McVerry, which happened to coincide with the increase of homelessness figures to 10,000. It is hard to think of a more pressing social issue that councillors will face over the next five years than tackling homelessness. Peter’s clear view is that Dublin City Council and other local authorities should get back into the business of building social housing. Peter also believes that there should be moratorium on private landlord evictions for the next three years.
While as a councillor, I won’t have any power in relation to such a proposed moratorium, the provision of emergency, short-term and long-term accommodation falls on the shoulders of Dublin City Council. While the economic priority of the council must be in making Dublin a thriving city with which to work and live in, the social priority must be to halt and reduce the plight of homelessness and we all need to work together on a cross-party basis to achieve these aims.
We need a mixture of policies here – the key one is to build more homes and the second is to ensure decent facilities for people who don't have permanent homes. My record is one of consistent support for quality homeless facilities and unlike some who make public comments of support on the issue I have never opposed any new homeless facility.
The key here is supply also. The census identified 180,000 vacant properties. Others estimate approximately 20,000. We need to bring back homes that were once available on the traditional rental market to long-term rental and curb the excesses of Airbnb which only deepens the accommodation crisis.
Currently there is a Derelict Sites Register, however the threshold for a property to be deemed derelict by officials is too high. A property may be derelict, but unless it appears to have visible structural damage, a hole in the roof etc., officials are slow to categorise it as derelict. Also the charge on a derelict site is 3 percent of the property's value is far too low and does not incentivise the property owners to act. We need to push for a higher levy so that the owners would act. In a city with so many homeless it is simply appalling to have so many derelict and vacant properties.
Dublin City Council needs to take a more aggressive and proactive stance with regards derelict and vacant properties and sites. I would aim to give the council greater powers with regard to taking control of vacant sites.
Dublin City Council has a clear statutory function in this area. The first is to maintain and establish where these properties and sites are and list them on a vacant site register. I think the council needs to significantly increase both the investment and resource in this area. Secondly, is the imposition of a levy for those premises actually listed. It is no good just increasing the list and collecting the levies however, the existence of these powers needs to be used as leverage to drive actual development of housing.
I welcome the new Vacant Site Levy, which was a Labour initiative. We need to encourage owners to develop sites and that can mean helping to bring adjoining owners together for best use of perhaps smaller sites. I have done so in the past and will again if re-elected.
This needs clarification. There are title issues with many of these proprieties. "Living over the shop" initiatives should be promoted. Barriers to conversion should be removed while safeguarding standards.
Dublin needs one overall transport plan for the city not multiple plans for different areas. We have the NTA, but we also have many transport working groups that are not coordinated. What is required is an overall masterplan that facilitates and future-proofs our infrastructure for public transport, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
Although public transport in Dublin has improved dramatically over the past 20 years we still have a long way to go. A rail link between the city and airport is still not in place after all these years of discussions and planning. For a European capital city we are lagging behind our neighbors. I would be in favor of the revised MetroLink plan from the city centre going ahead as soon as possible.
As a public representative and as a daily public transport user, I can shine a light both on the problems faced by commuters and how we can overcome one of the worst cities in the world for traffic congestion. I believe a lot of the community disruption that has been caused by recent public transport proposals was entirely avoidable and with better consultation with the affected communities and greater political accountability, more cohesive solutions could have been put forward. If elected, I would hope to use my power to close the gap between residents, business owners, commuters and members of the community to deliver better public transport solutions for the city.
My long-held belief is that we need a single Dublin Transport Authority chaired by a directly elected mayor to bring all the transport services in Dublin under one platform.
We are playing catch up with other European cities. We need to proceed with the MetroLink from Swords to Charlemont and expand the Luas.
In the canal cordon report by the NTA for 2018, figures showed that cyclists and pedestrians now account for 50 percent of the traffic in Dublin city. Between 2006 to 2007, the number of motorists has decreased while the number of cyclists has increased fourfold, yet there is still no proper cycling infrastructure. As mentioned, we need a proper overall masterplan for transport that facilitates all modes of transport. We need proper cycle routes that are active for 24 hours a day rather than only during peak hours. The current canal cycle route, the proposed Liffey Cycle Route and the Sutton-to-Sandycove Cycle Route are all positive steps to increasing safer infrastructure for cyclists but we need more. My colleague Councillor Patrick Costello’s proposal of safe school zones and his motion with Councillor Paddy Smyth on public consultation for a quietway from Kimmage to Ballsbridge are great initiatives showing how we can plan for better cycling infrastructure. Equally, the great work done by the Dublin Cycling Campaign, Cyclists.ie in terms of advocating and lobbying for cyclists is what we need more of to ensure that cyclists are heard. I would very much like to see leadership in the area similar to that of [Mayor] Anne Hidalgo in Paris, where she closed sections of the motorway along the Seine in Paris to give space over to walking and cycling. We need to look at cities like Paris, Aarhus and London and learn from their transport planning.
I cycle to work every day and this is an area I am particularly passionate about. Expanding the hugely successful Dublinbikes scheme to other areas of the city and suburbs such as Ballsbridge needs to be a top priority. We also need to significantly invest in cycling infrastructure around the city. There is a need for designated bike lanes to make cycling in the city safer and stop this "driver" vs "cyclist" tension.
As a keen cyclist myself, I want to use my time in Dublin City Council to focus on delivering cycling infrastructure that is achievable. I don’t believe in pitting car drivers against cyclists or pedestrians because all it does is create unnecessary tensions in communities when most people want better cycling facilities and improved pedestrian amenities for vulnerable road users.
By continuing to support cycling infrastructure such as the Sutton-to-Sandycove (S2S) cycleway and the Dodder Greenway and helping to reduce conflict between different sectors on this issue. Too often good ideas are spiked by lack of preparation by sponsoring councillors. Experience helps deliver. The provision of better cycling facilities would also be helped by the establishment of a single Dublin Transport Authority.
Finalise the Liffey Cycle Route.
The Green Party has always been the leading party in Ireland for climate action. Time and time again we introduced measures for climate action which were blocked by the government. Climate action needs to happen at a national and local level. From a local level we need to support the city to fight climate by using more renewable energy, divesting from fossil fuels, providing more greener commuting options and using energy wisely. My colleagues Councillor Claire Byrne and Councillor Ciarán Cuffe were part of a committee that hosted a series of workshops on what we can do in terms of climate action in the city. We need similar workshops across the city, in schools, in companies, and at public events. We need climate action to be part of the daily conversation and not just a call to action. On a personal level, I set up a group called Mothers4Climate to support the FridaysForFuture climate school strikes.
We need to address climate change on a community level in order to make a real difference. This May I am trying to set an example and going poster-free (plastic-free) for the 2019 local elections. I would also strongly encourage other candidates to abstain from the use of single-use plastics. We must be the change we seek, and align the green agenda with our actions by going poster-free.
Support in full the implementation of the Dublin City Council Climate Change Action Plan which seeks 33 percent better energy use by the council by 2020 and a 40 percent reduction in the council’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Ensure that any votes that I am asked to consider on whatever the issue is, keeps the council on track to meet those targets.
This is a complex issue, but the biggest contribution we could make in city is to improve public transport and improve its environmental sustainability – primarily through ensuring that all new public-transport vehicles are electrically powered. I also believe there is a huge case for a completely free public transport system in this regard. There are other ways such as reducing waste, improving green spaces, and planting more trees. Dublin City Council should in the aftermath of the local elections establish a Climate Change Committee as one of its principle structures and not as a sub-committee of a committee.
Implement the recommendations of the all-party committee on the climate action report making a decarbonised Ireland a realistic goal.
I would introduce better enforcement to combat illegal dumping. Currently we only have 13 litter wardens. This is simply not enough. We need more on-the-spot fines and ways to monitor illegal-dumping activity. For areas with frequent activity, these areas need to have deterrent measures to stop individuals from taking advantage. In relation to dog fouling, we need to incentivise individuals to pick up after their dogs, and provide free bags and more bins, but we also need to deter them by actually applying fines and other methods such as naming and shaming.
Taking pride in our community can play a major role in this. I am part of the green campus in my workplace and am passionate about trying to get the wider community involved. Community involvement is so important and the more awareness people have the more progress will be made. I want to see everybody play an active role, not just the council.
Each of these issues probably have to be considered separately. Proliferation of litter and dog poo can be changed through behaviour nudged along by both awareness campaigns and more public and dog poo bins in offending areas. Illegal dumping is a serious crime and should be treated as such, and a greater number of investigations and prosecutions are required.
I have proposed that we create new post of community warden that would be a mixture of litter warden, dog warden and traffic warden – these would be allocated to areas and would get to know them and I believe could be very instrumental in tackling these matters in a financially sustainable way. We need to ensure that people do not get away with anti-social behaviour in this way.
Highlight local activism and civic pride. Publish lists of the best and worst areas for littering. Those responsible should be "named and shamed" noting that only a third of fines issued by Dublin City Council are paid.
Like vacant and derelict sites we have spaces around Dublin that if "greened" would make great public spaces and parks. I would propose to make a list of any available sites and request that the council take these areas in charge and provide more green spaces for our city. This would include pocket parks.
I plan on putting together active citizenship schemes such as community-garden projects that will increase the opportunities for everyone to play an engaging role in the community and enjoy the fantastic parks and green spaces we have in Dublin.
Where parks and green spaces already exist as community amenities, they need to be protected notwithstanding demands for housing and development. Housing with no community is not a home. I also think a key job of a councillor is to harness both the power and resources of local government to work with tidy towns committees and other community groups in this area to help deliver on their aims and objectives and that’s what I intend to do.
There is a park in the middle of Dublin city that is locked and chained. That park is in Fitzwilliam Square. That to me is an anachronism in this day and age and I have long sought its acquisition by the city. We can also enhance existing green spaces such as along the Dodder and the Tolka and, in particular, around Dublin Bay.
We have adequate numbers of parks in our city. I urge families and communities to make best use of them.
One of the most important roles of a councillor is to write the City Development Plan. As part of this, I would insist that all developments include publicly accessible green space.
Public spaces are what facilitate the creation of social capital. I see protecting them from privatization as a fundamental role within Dublin City Council.
Public spaces in Dublin city and suburban villages are essential to the survival of culture, community and enterprise in Dublin. In the last decade, we have seen how the ingenuity of local community groups, artists and businesses have promoted the use of public space above and beyond what ever previously existed in Dublin. A trip to the park as a child was to feed the ducks, now it might be for an outdoor concert, food truck or exhibition. This movement needs to be supported and grow to ensure an appropriate balance is met between the provision of housing and the preservation of community.
One of the great challenges for the next city council in this regard will be creating the public plaza on College Green. I have long supported this proposal and believe we should relaunch it for the city. In addition I believe that the Bank of Ireland building on College Green should be transferred to public ownership by the bank and developed as a Dublin Museum and an Institute for Dublin Affairs.
We have adequate numbers of parks in our city. I urge families and communities to make best use of them.