Citizens’ agenda
Local elections 2019

Maria Mulvany

Fine Gael candidate for Donaghmede
 

A home is one of the most basic needs a person has and home ownership is deeply ingrained in Irish society as a goal. Home ownership should be within the reach of the majoiry but sadly is not. One of the main factors contributing to high costs is the increased land value, often driven by speculation more than real value. The Land Development Agency can be used to address this problem and bring underutilised and vacant sites, including publicly owned lands, into use to ensure increased supply of social and affordable homes.

 

Cost-rental model should be expanded to be an important part of our rental market. Cost rental is where tenants pay rent to cover the maintenance of the property and is lower than market rent and is successful in many other European countries. Regulation and enforcement of short-term lets (for tourism) is also important, this reduces the supply available and introduces inflationary presssure on the rental market. New regulations are coming and Dublin City Council will need to ensure they are properly enforced.

 

Increased supply of social and affordable housing will help people finding themselves homeless in the first place. In the short-tem, HAP [the Housing Assistance Payment scheme] can subsidise rents in the private sector, but the ultimate goal is increased supply of appropriate social and affordable housing. The Housing First model has had some success addressing long-term homelessness and rough sleeping, and this model should be expanded.

 

Hoarding of derelict and vacant properties is a contributing to the housing crisis as well as resulting in unsightly eyesores across our city. The Vacant Site Levy introduced is a step in the right direcction; this imposed a 3 percent levy on vacant properties in 2018, increasing to 7 percent in 2019. This should be monitored to assess effectiveness and adjusted if required. Compulsory purchase orders also have their place when other measures have failed.

 

Public transport is key in order to create a fairer, greener, healthier, and more prosperous city.

Right now we have issues with overcrowding, reliability and the speed and effectiveness of our buses and trains, leaving many people with no alternative than to drive. Car dependency has resulted in Dublin becoming the third most congested city in the world. It has contributed to poor public health, hostile street environments, lost productivity, not to mention the environmental impact.

We need to redesign our street layouts to prioritise public transport and active travel (walking and cycling). Our streets are where Dubliners live their lives, socalise and interact. We need to ensure they are pleasant, healthy environments that facilitate sustainable public transport that’s fast, affordable and safe. I’m committed to working to achieve this if elected.

 

Very simply, we have to make it safe if a cycle lane is not safe for a five-year-old child then it’s simply not safe enough. That means segregated cycle paths. Copenhagen and the Netherlands provide great templates we can follow and learn from. We need a comprehensive network of cycle lanes that is planned and joined up not a series of one-off projects.

I cycle every day, I have for years put up more miles on my bike than on my car. I see too often badly designed cycle infrastructure that makes it more dangerous not safer (murderstrips to borrow a phrase from our Dutch neighbours). We need to consider what it’s actually like to cycle when designing the cycle network.

The most direct route will be the one cyclists use so diversions should be avoided. Permiability should be incorporated as well as other safely features like advance green lights for cyclists. But again, segregated cycle lanes are key.

I would like to see our city streets redesigned so priority is alocated to pedestrians, cyclists, public transport, commerical vehicles and private cars – in that order. Streets are much more than roads, they are the fabric of our city, where Dubliners live their lives, socalise, interact. We need to make them safe, inviting and healthy.

We need real commitment to make this happen. The Liffey cycle route has taken too long and the Fitzwilliam Cycle route consultation process shows us how a few people can delay a scheme with mass support.

 

The council's recently launched a Climate Action Policy is a step in the right direction but there is a lot more to do. We need to ensure the next Dublin City Development Plan has climate change considerations at its core and all future developement and expansion in our city is sustatinable.

Reducing Dublin's car dependency by investing in public transportat and active travel will also have an positive impact on our environment.

 

We need more enforcement and fines. We don’t have enough litter wardens and enforcement is poor. Some of the illegal dumping could be tackled by providing householders with a limited number of free entries to Dublin City Council's recycling centres (perhaps linked to prompt payment of property tax).

In relation to dog poo, more bins and bags are a first step. In areas where this is a more persistant problem we could consider looking at the example in Essex in the UK, where dog DNA is used to identify offenders and issue fines.

 

Our city needs to see more higher-density development. This by definition means people have less private space, in particular the loss of gardens. It’s crucial that this is compensated for by good quality parks and green areas. This has to be part of the planning process and consideration.

I would also like to see some protections put in place where clubs are using pitches and there is a lack of alternative traininng grounds avaialble, these lands should not be easily sold to developers for housing. We need houses but we also need quality green spaces. We have penty of available land all through our city, we don’t have to nor should we sacrifice our parks or clubs' training pitches.

 

I touched on this in the public transport and cycling questions. Our city streets and public areas are the places Dubliners live their lives, interact and socialise. Unfortunately, over the last few decades the car has come to dominate and made our streets and public spaces often hostile, unpleasant places.

We need to take our streets back, make them safe to walk in, enjoyable to socialise in and places to interact. In our city-centre streets users should be prioritised as pedestrians first, followed by cyclists, public transport, commercial vehicles and lastly private cars.

We should incorporate more awnings and trees for people to shelter from the rain, more public seating, public water fountains and public toilets.

This is a project byDublin Inquirer, a reader-funded local newspaper covering Ireland's capital. You can support local journalism by becoming a Dublin Inquirer subscriber.