Citizens’ agenda
Local elections 2019

James Geoghegan

Fine Gael candidate for Pembroke
 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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