Dublin City Council is dependent on government schemes and funding to deliver social and affordable homes. At the moment, with the funding caps from central government, and the quotes for building from developers, it is very difficult for the council to build new social housing. This needs to change. I also think that the last FG/Labour government's decision to reduce the Part V provision [of social homes in new developments] from 20 percent to 10 percent and to scrap the affordable-housing scheme has had a detrimental effect on housing supply in the city. Not only that, developers are getting away with providing the 10 percent off-site, particularly in the Docklands area, so local people can’t even stay in their own community. This is unacceptable.
We did just recently, however, have some good news in relation to the Poolbeg West Strategic Development Zone, as An Bord Pleanála upheld the 25 percent provision of social and affordable homes. Local councillors (including myself) did agree on 900 units during the negotiations, so I am hoping through the planning process we can deliver the extra 25 units. The minister needs to come up with a scheme to deliver the affordable element here. I personally think this is an ideal site for a cost rental scheme, that is affordable. It is absolutely crucial that we develop a long-term, mixed-use sustainable community on the Poolbeg West sites. I think the SDZ will provide that and I am fully committed to delivering that.
The cost-rental housing model works really well in other European cities and we need more of that here, particularly on council- and state-owned land. I am working with my Green Party colleagues on the council and in the Dáil to look at state-owned sites such as Griffith Barracks, where a feasibility study is now proposed for cost-rental housing.
We need to ensure that the public land owned by the council is used for public housing. This is the best tool available to councillors, as most other decisions have been taken away from us by central government. This is also a key policy of the cross-party National Housing and Homelessness Coalition, which the Green Party are members of.
We also need to stop granting planning permission for hotels and student accommodation, and prioritise building housing, even private, to increase the supply in order to reduce costs, something I am currently pushing for on the council and hope to continue to do so.
At the moment it seems to me that in many local authorities, the main focus for the supply of social housing is via Part V or via housing associations, with little contribution from local authorities themselves. I think the new city council has to demand far more of the officials in terms of the council themselves providing houses, while at the same time maintaining supply under the other two heads. It is my clear understanding that money is available to the councils for this purpose and that they are simply not spending it as intended.
Further, I am mystified at the huge numbers of vacant houses being reported in the census. In parts of the area I am contesting, vacancy rates approached 14 percent in 2016. I think the council has to understand the reasons for this and to take steps to address any blockages in re-occupying these houses. The council itself also seems to allow units it controls remain unoccupied for excessive periods and councillors need to hold them to account for this.
If serious steps were taken on the above two issues, I think supply could be increased significantly over the term of the next council.
The recent announcement that approximately 900 social and affordable homes will be built on the Irish Glass Bottle Site in Ringsend – as An Bord Pleanála approved the Poolbeg West Strategic Development Zone scheme – is very welcome. This represents over 25 percent of the total homes, far beyond the 10 percent minimum. This deal was reached between Dublin City Council and the landowner, with the support of the Department of Housing.
I want to ensure that DCC delivers both traditional social housing and affordable publicly-built homes for rent to a wider range of people. There are needs to be greater opportunity for affordable home ownership. I would like to see the units at the Irish Glass Bottle site fast tracked as well. In addition to that I would like to work with residents and groups around the delivery of cooperative housing.
Accommodation costs have soared out of many people’s reach in the city, having a major negative impact on daily life and mental health. Housing should not be dictated only by market forces: government-driven social and affordable housing underpins a thriving economy and all our well-being by stabilising prices in the market. We need to prioritise public housing on public land, and to reskill and refocus council staff around the provision of housing. The council should increase its own capacity to develop social and affordable housing, alongside increased direct employment in housing maintenance and repair so housing stock is energy efficient and not detrimental to people’s health.
I would also encourage more co-housing initiatives, working with the community to design their own homes and communal spaces, especially for key public benefit workers (such as those in healthcare and education, and live/work spaces for artists), who are currently priced out of the city.
The next council should also make step-down housing a priority. More step-down housing would give older people the option to live in more manageable homes. And in turn it would free up family homes at a time when we desperately need them. There are over 300 people on a waiting list for such a scheme in Dublin at the moment.
In terms of social and affordable housing, let's face it, whatever policies Dublin City Council has, if you don't have the supply of homes, you don't have the supply. Dublin City Council should at least begin to build suitable housing and purpose-built emergency homeless accommodation.
Rather than the ad-hoc way of accommodating people in family hubs, ad-hoc buildings like Carman's Hall, or B&Bs, Dublin City Council should begin to build purpose-built. York House Salvation Army. Or Granby House. Or the Iveagh on Bride Street. The council can do that. Also where you have an AHB with property that hasn't been developed, the council should take that back, and put that to use.
In terms of social and affordable, we're going to be very much dependent on the private sector, so we should up the percentage from 10 percent of social in private developments. We also end to look at student accommodation and the way that whole model is being rolled out. It just seems to me to be a situation where all that accommodation is being built, but it doesn't seem to be homes, and it doesn't seem to be permanent. We were led to believe that students would leave apartments and flats, and go into student accommodation but no such thing is happening.
What you're looking at here is where you actually make homes available for your cities and people. I did support the new policy document from the council whereby 50 percent of voids would go to people who are long-term homeless. I think the lead group of Dublin City Council, Sinn Féin have really failed on this front.
The state needs to build more homes – not just homes for those on lower-incomes but homes for people on middle-incomes trapped by high rents preventing them from saving enough to put down a deposit on their own homes.
Last year, for example, Dublin City Council built just 74 social homes and 69 of these were rapid-build modular housing. In other words, just five standard social homes were built in 2018. This helps to explain why there are 17,745 people languishing on the housing list in the city. In my view the unelected city management is in dereliction of its duty. If there was a genuine left-wing council this would not be tolerated. I believe that public land should be used exclusively for social and affordable housing. At present the council majority is agreeing to the sell-off of public land if they can achieve a 30 percent target of social and affordable housing. I don’t agree with this. There should be no sell-off at knock-down prices to developers. If land was available, then houses can be built for less than €200,000. The council should start assembling its own direct-labour unit – so that the city is not dependent on builders whose main aim is profit. I want to see the promised 900 social and affordable homes at the Irish Glass Bottle site go ahead. That would allow people who grew up in the area and want to live near family and friends, get a home there.
As a renter myself, I fully understand the expense, uncertainty and stress of renting in Dublin right now. We urgently need real rent controls, rights and security of tenure for tenants.
About two years ago I had a motion passed in the council to introduce rent controls in the city. Ultimately, this is a central government decision, but our motion was dismissed by the housing minister. And his recent announcements regarding rent-pressure zones are too little too late. The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) model, while it has its benefits, is a short-term solution that is also taking rental properties out of the private rental market, further reducing supply.
We also need to build more housing, public and private to increase supply and reduce costs. Again this is where the cost-rental model is an important part of the solution.
It’s incredibly frustrating to see a housing sector where changes could be made that would help reduce homelessness very quickly and effectively, but are ignored like this.
See my answer to question 1.
We need to make sure that the new legislation around short term lets is being enforced, and that the relevant bodies have funding to do so. In addition to that new developments of affordable housing should be a combination of affordable purchase and affordable rental. We should also prioritise the development of affordable quality housing over offices or hotels. I would also like to see stronger rights and protections for renters that are already in place. The precarious nature of renting doesn’t get the coverage it needs.
The Social Democrats’ Rental Charter plan includes a ban on rental-bidding wars, the extension of legal rent caps throughout the country, and a deposit protection scheme. We would also introduce extensive rent control, security of tenure, and regulation of short-lets. We also need much more family-size units in the city centre, not just one and two bed apartments.
Living in a city-centre apartment, I’ve seen first-hand how short-lets begin to fray the fabric of our city community, and price out those who wish to live long term in the city. Tourists are very welcome, but we need to be first a foremost a city neighbourhood. I support significant fines for those abusing short-let legislation, and ensuring that the council has adequate resources to ensure compliance across the city.
This business of affordability is a myth. People can barely afford a cup of tea. That is not going to change. We are not going to get to a place where housing becomes cheap. I think in relation to our most vulnerable people I think there should be stronger subsidies. I think we have an obligation to actually subsidise those who have the lower economic standing, lower wage jobs. I also think if it is possible for a person to go back to the family home, we should be able to subsidise that. People are being put into what's now going to be known as rent poverty, whereby all of the money is being spent on the rent and people aren't going out, and this will end up in all sort of emotional and mental conditions because you aren't socialising and you're isolated.
Also, I think we should be calling on the Irish Catholic Church, to begin the process to coming to the aid of the poor and those who are need of housing and shelter. It makes no sense that church grounds lying idle are not being turned into family homes. If I was to be re-elected these are the policies that I'd be advocating for.
Renua does not support the policy of "Rent Pressure Zones". This policy is a short-term measure that does not deal with the underlying issue of a housing shortage. We believe the taxation of rental income and fair tenancy rules are required to attract more private landlords into the market.
The private sector alone will not resolve our housing crisis. We believe the state must play a more active role in the provision of social and affordable housing in Ireland.
Rents should not consume more than 25 percent of a person’s income. But in Dublin, it is not uncommon to find that they now account for 50 percent. This is a scandal. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have allowed rents to escalate because they are dominated by property interests. I have three proposals: 1) There must be rent reviews to enforce a reduction in rents, and where individuals or a group of individuals can show that rents have risen above an acceptable proportion of their income, there has to be a rent reduction; 2) after that there must be strict rent controls, and rental increases must only be linked to rises in the Consumer Price Index; 3 )tenants must be given security of tenure, where a building is sold off, the tenants must keep their homes, and there should be a ban on evictions, except in exceptional circumstances, while the present housing crisis persists.
It is difficult to see the numbers of homeless people rise over recent years, but this is due to the reasons I have outlined above. A lot of people entering homelessness today are coming from the private rented sector due to unaffordable rents or insecure tenancies, and frequently both. We also have a huge number of hidden homelessness, with generations of families living under one roof as people can’t afford to move out, rent or buy, or are on the ever-growing social-housing waiting list. Providing more public housing, cost-rental models and more affordable rents will help stem the tide of homelessness as people will have affordable secure accommodation and no longer be pushed onto the streets. But we need to find ways to fund this and to speed the process up.
See my answer to question 1. In addition, the council needs to continually evaluate its processes for matching those in danger of living on the streets to available and suitable hostel accommodation.
We need to deliver more housing first and foremost. Specifically we need to see more housing delivered by the state. Market based solutions only serve the wealthiest people and don’t play a major role in actually addressing the crisis. I would work with councillors and relevant agencies to improve the services that are already in place. This requires a series of policies
The overall aim of the council’s housing policy should be to reduce the cost of housing so that housing is affordable and homelessness is prevented. The council alone can’t effectively address homelessness – urgent action is needed at government level to freeze all rents at current levels for two years, strengthen tenants’ rights to prevent homelessness and exploitation (see our rental charter). I support increasing housing supply by drastically increasing funding for not-for-profit building, co-op housing, and renovation of derelict buildings. The council should also ring-fence a higher proportion of all new development for affordable housing in addition to the existing 10 percent social provision.
You are never going to eliminate homelessness. Homelessness is something that is global, how you respond to homelessness is what you need to think about. You have to keep people from falling into a poverty trap. It's not just about being homeless, it's about being vulnerable. We need to be able to look at the health fallouts first and foremost of homelessness. In terms of being able to assist people. Assisting people with rent. Whenever possible if the landlord is selling the property, the council should move in and buy that property. Dublin City Council should be appealing to people who are selling their homes to first and foremost come to them. And the Revenue should offer tax incentives if owners sell to the council or approved housing bodies. That would make sense.
Basically what we are looking here at, if you are looking at 10,000 people on the homeless list, we need immediately 20,000 homes immediately to alleviate that situation. We also need seriously to look at the possibility of relocation programmes to other parts of the country. We need to see if we can make it attractive for people in this situation to resettle maybe somewhere else with good housing, good social programmes. Won't be be able to provide enough housing in the short- or even medium-term, but what the councul can do fror people who are homeless is provide them social centres and programmes, places for them to go and good things for them to do during the day. We also have to be very careful that we don't build homeless compounds, where people are contained, and there should be a way for people to exit homelessness.
Homelessness is a scar on our capital and another symptom of a dysfunctional housing market that requires state action to resolve. Renua supports a housing passport to allow homeless people to apply for social housing in any of the 31 local authority areas. We also support a "Housing First" approach to ending homelessness. Our priority will be to provide homeless people with a home and then to provide the necessary services to support them to deal with the specific reasons which led to their homelessness.
Through the above measures. Evictions, for example are one of the main causes of homelessness. We also have to stop Dublin City Council culling the figures for the numbers of homeless people simply because people do not return questionnaires on time .The homeless figures, for example, should include all those who are forced into couch surfing because they have nowhere to live. I also want to see an expansion of homeless shelters and an end to the degrading practice whereby people have to ring every day at a certain time to see if they can secure a bed. In particular, we need an expansion of refuges from domestic violence. A 2014 report indicated that 14 women a day were being turned way because there was no accommodation.
We still have an unacceptable amount of vacant and derelict properties and sites in the City, and you really notice this when canvassing. The fine for a property on the Derelict Sites Register is currently 3 percent of the market value of the property. This is still too low to have any meaningful impact. In addition, the criteria for a building to even get on the Derelict Sites Register is too strict, and this needs to be reviewed.
We need higher fines and stronger penalties for owners of vacant and derelict properties and sites. But we also need more initiatives to make it attractive for redevelopment. The Dublin City Council Living Cities initiative, for example, while well-intended, is riddled with limits and obstacles making it more hassle then it’s worth in most cases, so the uptake has been minimal. The Vacant Sites Register could also be much more robust. If re-elected, these are the areas where I will work to make necessary changes, and lobby central government to play its part also and strengthen the consequences of inaction by property and land owners.
I would hope that the Vacant Site Levy would play a key role in this. The council could be more pro-active in assessing any obstacles it can remove to the development of bigger sites.
The vacant sites levy could and should be higher. If it is going to have an impact it needs to have teeth. I would support measures that encourage the development of sites and properties
Ringfence the vacant sites levy to bring derelict houses back into use along the lines of the McVerry Trust’s ReUsing Dublin project; and develop vacant sites into social and affordable housing, community gardens, wildlife preserves, and vegetable patches.
The thing about vacant and derelict properties, some of those properties are not fit, some of those are in shocking state. Dublin City Council isn't going to turn around and disband regulations where you can have people living over shops and it's a fire hazard, it's just not going to do that. So unless we do that, this is going to remain an issue.
The legislation governing the Vacant Site Levy is vague and places a significant legislative burden on local authorities. Those issues will need to be resolved by government before the vacant site levy can become more effective.
We also believe that a significant number of vacant residential properties are vacant due to issues with the "Fair Deal" nursing home scheme. Elderly property owners are not incentivised to rent out their properties while they receive nursing home care as 80 percent of this income must be diverted to cover the cost of their care.
Renua supports a three-year exemption from commercial rates for commercial premises which have been vacant for a minimum of two years.
We need a vacant site and property register. The city council should carry out regular inspections and follow up immediately on reports on vacancy. I want to see more compulsory purchase orders to bring vacant property back into use,. Dublin City Council has requested just 25 houses since 2011 while Louth, with a much smaller population, has had compulsory orders for 141. Vacant sites worth more than €400 million have been identified at 114 locations across Dublin city and county – and this is an underestimate. I am totally against a practice whereby big developer companies are buying up land banks and then leaving them idle while they seek planning permission to change their use to commercial or residential. This is simply a means for escalating the price. I will highlight and oppose such activity.
For decades we have underinvested in public transport in the city, and indeed the whole country, with successive governments prioritising building roads over public transport, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. This is still happening while traffic in the city is getting worse and our transport emissions keep increasing. We need to plan our city for more sustainable and affordable modes of transport.
While the BusConnects and Metro projects are not without their flaws and challenges, which can hopefully be worked out through the public-consultation processes, I do think that these are the kind of big, brave and somewhat radical projects we need to deliver, along with better cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, in order to get people out of cars and into more sustainable modes of transport.
We also need to look at ways of improving transport options to and from our schools, such as more school buses, safer cycling and walking routes. Over 30 percent of peak morning traffic is school-run traffic.
I also think a directly elected mayor for Dublin, and a Dublin Transport Authority would help greatly in terms of improving public transport infrastructure.
I believe that by providing efficient, affordable and healthier alternatives, we can reduce our transport-related carbon emissions, create a healthier city and secure a more sustainable future for everyone, and that is something that, as a local councillor, I am committed to delivering.
I think a lot of the measures proposed by BusConnects will help to achieve this. Clearly some are controversial and the National Transport Authority needs to listen to legitimate concerns.
I would insist that all city development plans fully integrate improvements for infrastructure for public transport, cycling and walking. I would fight for sustainable public transport and infrastructure. We also need to be willing to properly subsidise public transport.
Dublin City Council policy needs to encourage more use of public transport, reduce the use of private cars, and support better flow of public transport through the city.
The best way to improve public transport is to appeal to people to be less hostile while they are out there on the road. There is a finite amount of space out there. There's the Luas coming through, bus corridors stopping and coming and changing, bike lanes that go nowhere. I think the best thing we can do is set out an entire plan to give people an idea of how this whole plan altogether is going to work.
At the moment, one week it's cycle tracks, another week it's metro underground, next week it's trains, it all gets very confusing. There was a time when people could get around the city on foot but now the footpaths are such a mess. I think if people move their cars out in their apartments or wherever, you're still going to have congestion. I'd also be very careful of privatised public transport coming in.
Renua Ireland supports the introduction of congestion charges in Dublin. The congestion charge in London led to a 26 percent reduction in congestion there along with a 40–70 percent reduction in accidents leading to personal injury.
We also support reforms of taxi regulations to better facilitate ridesharing. We support the outsourcing of public transport services as a means of improving services for users.
Renua also believes it is necessary to establish a dedicated "transport and parks" police for our city.
Dublin is one of the slowest cities in Europe, with drivers spending a staggering 246 hours in their cars over the course of a year. Losing these days of your life in traffic jams is bad for your mental well-being – and the climate. Three hundred buses were cut from the Dublin Bus fleet by the last Fianna Fáil-Green government. I want those cuts to be reversed and want to see an expansion of the fleet. Once that occurs, we can move to cheap and reliable public transport. I think, for example, there should be a single €1 fare throughout the city. We should then move to free public transport. How will be pay for it? By closing the tax loopholes given to banks – or by taking some of the Apple money.
As a cyclist, I am fully aware of our sub-standard cycling infrastructure in the city. So one of the first things myself and my Green Party colleagues did when we were elected in 2014 was to reinstate a cycling and walking officer for Dublin City Council.
We have made some progress in terms of cycling infrastructure. For example, as a member of the Sutton 2 Sandycove Sub-Committee, I have progressed the Sean Moore Road to Merrion Gates section of the route, and we have seen recent headway on the Liffey Cycle Route recently and the Dodder Greenway, some of the key cycling routes for the city.
I also secured another 2,000 bike parking facilities for the city, delivered bike parking at the South Bull Wall, and achieved funding for secure shared bike parking in residential areas with the Dublin City Beta Projects. I also got agreement to resurface Camden Street/Aungier Street and the Stillorgan Road to improve cycling along these routes.
Again, supporting cycling infrastructure sometimes means taking positions that can be unpopular with local residents, such as the Fitzwilliam Cycle Route and the recently proposed South Dublin Quietway. But we need to deliver safe cycling infrastructure if we are to get people out of cars, onto more sustainable and healthy modes of transport and reduce our carbon emissions. Better cycling infrastructure has numerous benefits – it reduces congestion and so improves public transport, helps address climate change, and promotes physical and mental health.
If re-elected I will continue to fight for better, safer cycling infrastructure in the city.
As I hope to represent an inner-city district, it is a key priority for me that all residents have a safe and proper route to cycle to all destinations within the canals. It is simply not acceptable that the surfaces of cycle lanes are left unrepaired or that we continue to tolerate dangerous junctions with no measures to protect cyclists.
We should commit to a minimum level of investment into cycling and cycling infrastructure. There should also be a dedicated cycling office in Dublin City Council. I would actively support the development of new infrastructure for cyclists.
Dublin cyclists face unacceptable levels of danger in navigating the city. Many more dedicated cycling routes must be introduced to make cycling not only a better transport choice for climate action and health, but also a choice that won’t put lives at risk. I support safe cycle tracks and junctions, investing in cycling officers, and having a long-term plan to build cycling into everything we do as a city. I also support reducing non-resident parking spaces in the city, with more provision for cycle lanes and cycle parking.
The point of the matter is you can improve cycle infrastructure but you have to improve road use behaviour. We know when we have improved cycle tracks we haven't improved road use behaviour. I've gone out and watched. It's just chaos, you don't have enforcement. And on top of that you have people going around willy nilly with a complete disrespect for the rules. So I think we need to grow up as a city. I think at the end of the day when people are in transit and they're moving from place to place, they need to have more respect for each other.
Ireland spends too little on cycling infrastructure. Renua supports greater investment in cycling infrastructure. This includes the development of safe, dedicated cycle lanes and the reform of planning laws to better facilitate the development of secure facilities for cyclists which will include bike parking, showering and locker facilities in key locations throughout the city.
I want to see proper cycle lanes. This means a soft barrier to clearly delineate a cyclist’s space from motorists.
As a member of the council's Environment Strategic Policy Committee, one of the first things I did when I was elected in 2014 was to ensure we developed a new climate change strategy for the city, as the previous plan had not been reviewed or updated since 2009 (the last time there were Greens on the council). I went on to establish and co-chair the council's Climate Change [Sub-]Committee, and we are in the process of publishing the new Dublin City Climate Action Plan after the recent public-consultation process. The plan looks at the key areas of energy and buildings, transport, resource use, nature-based solutions and flood resilience.
I want to be a member of the next council to ensure this Climate Action Plan is delivered, that it is reviewed and updated regularly, and that there are annual performance reports in terms of reaching targets, which are crucial to its success.
Climate action needs to be at the core of every decision we make. We need to climate proof all our policies. While other parties talk about climate change, I don’t always see them willing to walk the walk in the way that they vote on projects. It is simply no longer sufficient for climate action to be a "nice to have" option, and this means making brave and sometimes unpopular decisions. As an environmental scientist and educator, this is essential part of my role as a Green Party councillor.
The council needs to look at all if the ways it contributes to climate change, such as use of non-recyclable materials, badly insulated council buildings and houses and all of its transport requirements. I would hope that the new council would insist on an audit in all these areas, identifying a programme of action and monitoring that this is achieving meaningful reductions year by year in destructive activity. Of course everyone has a role to play, but my priority is for the council itself to lead by example.
I would seek the implementation of practical actions to reduce Dublin’s greenhouse gas emissions through local Climate Action Funds. I would seek to establish a retrofitting programme for council homes and buildings. I would also like to prioritise public transport and cycling.
Climate change and inequality are the two biggest challenges we face locally and globally. On the city council I will prioritise: 1) A new grants scheme for insulating homes that is available to everyone; 2) Promoting switch to electric vehicles, cycling and public transport; 3) City-wide reduction in plastic packaging, and ensuring more recycling; 4) Increased monitoring and accountability for air and water quality in Dublin Bay; 5) Increase biodiversity in the city by more planting, encouraging community gardens, and planting of appropriate trees; 6) Support Dublin becoming a smart city, using data analytics to monitor the environment (including air and water quality) and adjust our resources accordingly.
I think there's so much the council can do to address climate change that it's like where to you start. We have vast amounts of senior elderly buildings that need to be retrofitted or they need to be taken down. In terms of the council's own waste management in its social housing, it's disgraceful how we do that. In terms of how we incinerate waste down at Covanta, I'm totally against that. We should be getting into more recycling. We should be looking at reducing emissions from cars. Planting more trees within the city area. And we need to be monitoring these situations really really really well. And we need to be giving incentives to people to improve their behaviours in these areas.
The council has a climate action plan that has been formulated. The government in contrast really hasn't done very much. The city is growing enormously. We have to get real here. We have the capacity we can do this. We can only do this together. But we can only do it if we change our behaviour.
Renua Ireland supports the use of anaerobic digestion to produce renewable gas that can then be used to power public transport vehicles in our cities. This will provide jobs in rural Ireland, reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions for public transport vehicles.
We further support removing unnecessary height restrictions from our planning laws to discourage urban sprawl and negative impact on the environment resulting from that.
Renua also supports the greater use of solar energy panels in public and publicly owned buildings.
I will move a resolution to declare a climate emergency in Dublin. That means that all pubic buildings will have to shift to renewable energy. New planning permission will be made conditional on use of renewable energy. Dublin City Council will also have to embark on a major insulation programme for all the homes it lets. Currently, those in inner-city flats complexes are spending huge sums trying to heat their homes and avoid dampness.
In relation to litter: there are only 13 litter wardens assigned throughout the city, which – it is clear from the litter around us – is not enough. Councillors have responsibility for the city budget, and so if elected I will seek additional funding for more litter wardens and more enforcement of fines.
In relation to dog poo: myself and my colleague Councillor Patrick Costello recently proposed a wide-ranging motion to tackle dog poo that received cross-party support. If elected again I will work hard to have all parts of the motion implemented, delivering more dog-poo-only bins, more free dog-poo bags, looking for an increased fine, and piloting innovative techniques that have worked in other countries such as DNA testing dog poo. This motion was accepted, and now I want to make sure we can progress these initiatives.
I also recently secured agreement from the council to look at communal bin storage in certain areas. Part of the problem in the city is that many households still use bags for their waste. This means there is easy access to food for birds, foxes and vermin, who tear the bags apart causing more litter. By providing secure, communal bin storage we can reduce the impact of bag use and address the illegal dumping issue, and this is something I would like to be on the next council to progress.
We need to educate citizens that ultimately each and every one of them has to take personal responsibility for not dropping litter, and for clearing up their dog's poo. More concerted enforcement, likely involving camera surveillance, is needed for illegal dumping. We should have dog wardens focus on known trouble spots.
I would lobby to increase funding for a new Community Warden role to be a familiar face in every area, keeping an eye out for dumping, dog fouling, and graffiti, with the power to issue fines. Campaign for zero tolerance on dog fouling and introduce “brown zones” for streets and roads where persistent offending occurs.
These are all social behaviour matters, where citizens have to take individual responsibility for the upkeep of our shared spaces. The council can do more to encourage better civic-mindedness. We need to build stronger communities not only housing.
Litter and illegal dumping: I will call for the adoption of policies to reduce the production of packaging and plastic waste in the city, encouraging local businesses to adopt zero-waste approaches where possible. We also need much better enforcement of rules and fines to tackle dumping, illegal waste.
Dog poo: Take a data-mapping approach, and encourage citizens to report dog littering sightings – such as the DoodooWatch in some UK towns – so solutions can be focussed on areas with habitual fouling. Supply free doggie bags at park entrances. Fines need to be enforced, so there are costly consequences for owners, so we need to increase the number of dog wardens in the city. Other cities have installed public dog toilets, and methane digesters in parks so poo can be turned into energy, (powering some street-lamps for example) so that’s something Dublin City Council should consider as well.
Where people do illegal dumping and where there's dog poo on the street, the council has laws and we need enforcement. We need more staff out every day, more public domain officers out on the street 24/7 proactively tackling offenders. I know the street cleaners do a great job. But if people are going to keep dumping then these people have to be targeted, they have to be prosecuted and they have to be identified. It's all too bad since we brought in waste charges that people are going out and dumping waste.
And I believe that people who see people's dogs dumping on the street, they should report them. You're not informing on them. This is not some sort of 1960's IRA thing. We seem to be very hostile. When you ask someone to clean up after their dog, they'll get very abusive. People are fearful. Council officials and staff know that, that when they go out and do this job, they could be attacked.
We will adopt a "name and shame" approach to those who litter our streets and engage in illegal dumping. We will also recruit more litter wardens and campaign to include a community-service requirement to the punishment for litter offences. Under this proposal offenders will be required to work a certain number of hours picking up litter.
The privatisation of the bin service has been a disaster. Costs are escalating and the private companies who gain contracts also are tax dodgers. High costs mean that many poor people cannot pay and so drop off their rubbish in side streets. Nineteenth-century Britain brought in waste collection as a public service to avoid risks to health and safety. Twenty-first-century Dublin should do the same. We need a return to a public bin collection, conducted by council staff. We also need a regular "pick-up and recycle scheme" where the council collects furniture that is no longer wanted, and lets people pick it up for free so that it is recycled.
There is one thing the council does have full control of and that is the City Development Plan. This sets out the rules for planning decisions and provides councillors with an opportunity to demand more green space from large developments. For example, in the last City Development Plan, I successfully rezoned the vacant space at the end of South Great Georges Street/Dame Lane (the Why Go Bald Square) to be used as a park, and secured funding to add the furniture and bike parking that is there now. It’s a great space and I love seeing people use it every day.
Should I be re-elected I would use the City Development Plan to increase the number of green spaces and pocket parks. We need more places in city to sit, relax and reflect.
There is probably relatively little scope to increase the amount of green space, particularly within the canals. The emphasis has to be on enhancing what we have. We should try and have the highest quality linear green spaces along all our major waterways. We should resist the widespread rezoning of institutional land within the city, although this raises complex legal issues.
I would work to improve existing spaces and seek, where possible, to acquire new spaces for public use.
I support a green living city, with urban parks, trees and community gardens. Everyone in Dublin should have access to a public green space within a five-minute walk. Our green spaces make us happier, and healthier: filtering air and water and urban noise, helping regulate temperature, reducing energy costs, and supporting essential biodiversity in the city.
City planning needs to take more account of integrating green spaces into all development plans, planting of suitable trees, greening of waste-land, and supporting community gardens. We also need more arts and recreation spaces in the city. Artists are being priced out of the city, and they help make the city a more joyful place to live and work. I support the provision of free and low-cost spaces for artists and cultural initiatives, especially in Temple Bar. Our Cultural Quarter has seen too many artists and arts organisations depart for more affordable spaces far outside the city.
Councillors can designate in big developments that a percentage has to be set aside for amenities, and for green spaces. We're going to get more boardwalks with the Liffey Cycle Way. But the current boardwalk, there's issues of anti-social behaviour. In terms of the green spaces, the public domain spaces, like Temple Bar, it's a nightmare, those public spaces. There's some beautiful green spaces in other parts of the city, the gorgeous and underused Phoenix Park which is very underutilised because we never advertise it. And I'd like to see the Dublin Bay better used too. But when people do use these spaces a lot of times there are issues with anti-social behaviour. So again, it goes back to behaviour. We need to grow up. I want to see green spaces, but I don't want to see green spaces with anti-social behaviour. So like the plaza, they didn't have a plan to manage it once it was built.
We believe that parks and green spaces can be enormously beneficial to public health. We support the establishment of neighbourhood forums to provide people with a dedicated means to provide input into the development of their own neighbourhoods. We will support increased funding for green spaces active neighbourhood parks.
Dublin needs more green spaces. Planning standards recommend devoting 15–20 percent of the land in cities to open green spaces. Phoenix Park is clearly a large open space – but smaller open spaces are needed in built-up areas. Currently, Dublin City Council appears to have an "in-fill" approach to new housing, but this sometimes involves taking away green spaces from neighbourhoods, as occurred at Weaver Square in the Liberties. I will advocate for a planning strategy of 10–15 percent green space for each electoral division. I will also push for parklets – the use of waste empty space for art installations, seating and planting
We do need more public space, and to make the city calmer and safer. There are some big projects that can deliver that, such as the pedestrianisation of College Green, which I fully support. Here we could create a great part of the city that would not only reduce traffic, but would allow for more public events such as concerts and markets and create a real civic space in the heart of Dublin.
In my own neighbourhood, we recently fought hard against a hotel being built on the Portobello Harbour Plaza, whose entrance will open onto the square, with proposed seating and an awning outside on the square. This, in my mind, would effectively privatise this public space. Unfortunately An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for the hotel. However this has prompted the council to re-design the plaza, so that it is more fit for public use and to counteract the affect of the hotel development.
This is something I am currently working with the council and the local community, and if re-elected I will continue to progress this, along with College Green, and the part-pedestrianisation of Drury Street and South William Street. More green infrastructure is also important in terms of biodiversity and climate action, but it also helps to make the city more attractive.
See my answer to question 9.
Increasing the number of public spaces will be an important part of the work of the next council. The plaza at College Green is something I am supportive of and would work to see that advanced. I would also prefer that council land be developed for public use rather than being sold.
The whole of the city is a public place. Every place in the city centre is a public place. In order to provide seating, in order to provide small set-aside parks, and sports facilities, and small little play areas for children. But there's no place in rolling these out when people are just going to come along and vandalise them and burn them. We need to offer our citizens a reconstituted way of how we're going to come to their aid and provide them with the facilities they want. We need to up our game here, we need to change the dynamics, and we need to be able to enjoy our cities.
I would like to see the council take control of Stephen's Green and Phoenix Park and make the city one of the greenest and family friendly places in Europe. We need to get more land off institutions like the church, and get more land off the big developers, and we need to be able to build the infrastructure. Not just a city for the future, but a city for the people who are in it right now.
We believe in the development of strong, independent communities. Public spaces where residents can gather should be supported.
Renua believes that a register of vital community assets should be established. Under our plan a six-month stay on the sale of an asset will be imposed to give the local community an opportunity to bid for the asset, which can then be run on a co-operative basis.
Include a plan for children’s space, youth clubs, public leisure centres, and playgrounds. Here are my proposals on extending the public realm:
1) Free wifi. You should not have to go to Starbucks to get free wifi. Free wifi should be made available in Dublin city centre and in all council and state public parks – those managed by the Office of Public Works (Stephen's Green, the War Memorial Garden, Phoenix Park, and St Enda's).
2) Drinking fountains. Why do we have to buy bottled water in plastic containers which have an adverse effect on human health? We should provide drinking fountains in areas of heavy footfall.
3) Street furniture. Ever get tired walking around and just want to sit down? We need more benches around the city.
4) Community mural schemes. We can brighten up our city with murals. We need more commissioned murals and free-space art walls where people can experiment with their own designs.
5) Urban living rooms. We need to restore a sense of community to break down social isolation. We will create "urban living rooms", which are places where people can sit down and chat to strangers.