Solving the housing crisis will take time and vision. The roots of this crisis started with the creeping privatisation of our public-housing stock from the ‘60s onwards and the state moving away from providing homes to citizens. Under our Universal Public Housing system (more details on eirigi.org) everyone would have the right to rent a council property, regardless of their income. Cities like Vienna already operate similar highly successful public-housing schemes. Housing should also be a legal right, enshrined in the constitution. Only the state has the financial resources, legal powers and the expertise to build high-quality homes. Missing is the political will. For too long the process of housing prvision has been dominated by the private sector. As a result billions of euro have been channelled into the hands of private landlords, speculators, banks, developers, solicitors and estate agents – to the misery of others. Organised housing groups of citizens have a key role to play in applying pressure to push for this solution.
The extremely high rents in the private sector are forcing many families into poverty and despair. Rents controls would see private tenants provided with real security of tenure and rents set at an affordable level. A ban on economic evictions would also stop evictions of those who are genuinely trying to pay their rent or mortgage.
Long-term I’ve outlined our party’s solution in my answers to questions 1 and 2. Short-term, with over 10,000 on the homeless list state-wide, a national emergency needs to be declared on this issue. While a large-scale state building programme would take time, there is no reason the state can’t house people in buildings under its control or begin to requisition private derelict property.
This is an issue we have campaigned on locally, mobilising citizens in opposition to the BusConnects/NTA proposals. A key platform of the campaign is opposing the privatisation of our public transport system. Our public transport needs to be properly funded and run by the state for all citizens. It should not be run for profit. While transport infrastructure should always be reassessed and improved, the recent NTA proposals do not do that. The biggest changes would see seven "high frequency spines" on main routes across the city, along with 11 "orbital routes". Citizens in many working-class areas of the north-east city would lose their direct link to the city centre. Citizens are then expected to take additional buses to suburbs off these main routes! In Dublin north-east we ran a successful campaign opposing these proposals.
It is clear Dublin is not a cycling-friendly city. More effort needs to be made to provide safer and accessible cycle lanes. A campaign needs to be ongoing to increase awareness of cyclists, especially among motorists.
One of the key issues facing humanity into the coming decades is climate change. The recent march by young people in Dublin on the issue was brilliant. Environmental policy should be based on the "polluter pays" principle. This would ensure that those who pollute the most – invariably big business – would not do so without financial consequences, hopefully discouraging the worst aspects of environmental vandalism. This needs to be done in conjunction with the democratic management of our economy. Unfortunately, the artificial demise of our planet is still firmly rooted in the context of protecting the profits of big business. People power, like the recent young people’s march, has a key role in effecting real change on the issue.
Illegal dumping is always an issue raised during our daily activism. In our view, one reason for this is the privatisation of our bin-collection services. They need to be taken back into council control and, like our transport system, remain in public control and not run for profit by private companies.
It is vital, especially with apartment developments and major built-up areas, that parks and green spaces are planned for and provided. Crucial is the funding to maintain these facilities.