Citizens’ agenda
Local elections 2019

Fearghal Donnelly

 

In order to address the housing crisis, real leadership needs to be shown. In the 10 years Fine Gael have been in government, the housing crisis has deepened and divided communities, with children no longer able to rent, let alone buy in the areas they grew up. DCC now needs to act to identify suitable sites for the delivery of diversified public housing. For example, Councillor Shane O’Brien of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council recently developed a plan in Shanganagh to provide one-third each of social, affordable and rent-to-buy housing, which eventually was passed by the council. I believe these kind of developments are the way forward, focusing on three-bedroom homes which will cater for families, rather than the current private fixation with one-bedroom apartments which do little to address the current crisis.

 

Sinn Féin is proposing an immediate three-year rent freeze as well as rent relief equivalent to one-month’s rent. We’re continuing to oppose the Local Property Tax and have committed, at council level, to reduce it by the maximum allowed 15 percent. We’re also introducing a bill to ban the advertising of properties that don’t comply with existing legal regulations. All too often we see ads for dreadfully sub-standard rental accommodation on Daft and other sites, as well as Facebook ads that exploit vulnerable people in our society like students who desperately need somewhere to stay and end up living in dangerous accommodation but who cannot speak for fear they’ll be kicked out. Landlords who continually to disregard these regulations should be held firmly to account and this is an essential first step.

 

Unlike Dublin City Council CEO Owen Keegan, I don’t believe that good homeless services create demand. Rather, the dreadfully substandard provision of accommodation is to blame for our scandalous levels of homelessness. The provision of high-quality social and affordable housing throughout Dublin city, such as that previously mentioned above, is the only way to reduce homelessness. We should look to the 1930s and '40s, and the work of Herbert Simms and the Dublin Corporation, when 17,000 homes were built in Dublin from 1932 to 1948, as an example of what can be achieved when the desire is there.

 

I would like to see Dublin City Council using their compulsory purchase order (CPO) powers on these sites. Homelessness is the largest problem that we face today and the number of these properties that could be repurposed for housing is staggering. It is a disgrace that over 200,000 properties lie vacant in this country with over 15,000 people homeless.

 

Dublin’s public-transport system, as it stands, is seriously lacking. I’m often contacted by residents in opposition to the BusConnects plans, which put too much pressure on specific areas, while not actually addressing the core problem. I think this is fairly indicative of the problem in general. There is no large-scale, coherent plan for the modernisation of Dublin city’s public-transport system, which takes in bus, rail and cycling infrastructure. I feel that any attempts to privatise these services will only serve to further exacerbate the problem, and that the only way forward is a cheap, well-thought-out, integrated public-transport system.

 

I’m a cyclist myself and completely support a better city for cycling. I would be in favour of pushing for increased public-bike schemes, as well as setting an ambitious target for Dublin City Council to reach for cycle-lane delivery. I think a public consultation on the South Dublin Quietway would be a good start to determine the way to best implement world-class cycling infrastructure for all to use. Also I feel that safe cycle parking, such as public bike hangars, would be a great addition to the city.

 

A hugely important issue, climate change is a central part of the platform that we’re standing on, both locally and nationally. I’m opposed to a carbon tax, as I feel that it is regressive and doesn’t provide any actual incentive to reduce emissions or switch to zero-carbon alternatives. The proposed carbon tax would also disproportionally affect low- and middle-income families rather than large corporate polluters. We’re bringing forward a Local Authority Climate Obligation Bill, which would ensure that new housing is built to the highest energy-efficiency ratings and allows the best use of land for renewable energy generation, electric-vehicle charging points, as well as park-and-ride facilities.

 

Since becoming the local Sinn Féin representative in 2017, I’ve already worked with residents and residents’ associations to increase the number of bins in certain blackspots. While this has definitely been beneficial for locals, I feel that the way forward is to bring waste collection back under the control of local authorities. The provision of affordable refuse collection for all residents in conjunction with an increase in the number of recycling centres, as well as more dog-litter bins would, I believe, lead to a significant reduction in litter, illegal dumping and dog fouling.

 

We’re in a great position in Kimmage-Rathmines that we have a huge number of parks and green spaces which are frequently used by all. I think that DCC should seek to identify new green spaces for development in the coming years both in terms of new parks as well as for amenities such as AstroTurf pitches or BMX and skate parks. This would provide a huge boost to local residents and sports clubs, as well as having significant environmental benefits.

 

Any attempts to privatise our local resources should always be resisted. I would like to see a focus on improving the existing spaces with amenities such as the exercise machines that have been installed in Eamonn Ceannt Park, as well as coherent planning and delivery of playgrounds, gym facilities, and generally providing more amenities in conjunction with the rising number of residential and commercial developments.

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