Citizens’ agenda
Local elections 2019

Niamh McDonald

Independent candidate for Donaghmede
 

I have been campaigning for more public and affordable homes. What should be meant by affordable is linked to ability to pay, not the market rates. I would continue to campaign and fight inside the council chamber. I believe all public land sites should have 100 percent public homes. I don't believe private developers should be able to profit from public lands, especially while people are struggling to pay huge rents and suffering overcrowding and homelesness.

 

We need rent caps urgently. We need increased protections for renters also. The current legislation makes it too easy for landlords to evict people. Nobody should be evicted into homelesness.

 

We need to open up empty homes urgently and begin building thousands of public and affordable homes. We need greater protection for renters, no one should be evicted into homelessness. We need legislation that is designed for long-term affordable leasing that has security of tenure. We need better supports for people struggling to pay mortgages on family homes. Again, families should not be made homeless due to inability to pay their mortgages.

Housing is viewed currently as a commodity. Housing should be viewed as a social need that is available to all no matter what a person's income is and in turn that creates a secure stable society has people's welfare at its heart and creates a future for everyone.

 

I believe that the only way to bring empty properties back into use is for the local authority to try and buy some of the properties to use as public housing and to introduce a vacant property tax. There is currently a vacant site levy but its not being properly enforced. The levies or taxes would need to have no loopholes like in other countries and cities and fully enforced.

The tax I feel would have to be at a high rate to ensure it forces owners to obey. If they don't obey the council can take the land or the properties into public ownership and use them for social good, i.e. public housing. The tax collected should go to building public housing.

 

Firstly I would campaign for free public transport. We need to stop selling off bus routes to private entities and take those routes privatised back. Public transport run by private entities for profit does not work. The service becomes compromised for annual profit margins. We need to increase the frequency of all our public transport especially at peak times. I use public transport daily. Morning and evening peak times it can be impossible to get a place on a bus. I know the Luas is very busy and packed at peak times. Public transport, if used correctly, can reduce our city's congestion by reducing the amount of cars and in turn reduces carbon emissions. Public transport needs to be a huge part of addressing climate change.

 

Our cycling infrastructure is inadequate and in places dangerous. Cycling needs to be taken seriously as a form of transport in Dublin.

City planners need to listen to cyclists and look at cities that have successful cycling infrastructure. One policy I would like to initiate is to create safe off-road cycling paths linking them to schools. This will encourage more children and parents to cycle to school.

 

Dublin City Council can play a huge role in addressing climate change. It's not about individual responsibility while we can all make positive changes. It's the big-business polluters that need to be tackled. Dublin City Council has the power to enforce changes on big business polluters in Dublin whether that be through the rates system or enforcing other changes. The council can look at ways to reduce the city's plastic use, better recycling facilities, how to create energy with solar panels and wind, and to be more efficient with its energy usage. Addressing climate change and housing should be Dublin City Council's top priorities.

 

Refuse collection is probably one of the most important services in our city. Without it, our city stops functioning. It's vital that everyone can afford to use it. First of all our refuse collection needs to return to public hands and under the control of Dublin City Council and removed from private companies. It's clear the cost is becoming prohibative for many, so we need a service that ensures all our wasted is collected and disposed of correctly. One of the first cost-cutting measures of the local authority in the crash of 2008 was to reduce the number of public bins. I would fight to increase the number dramatically including recycling bins and services. Water fountain and taps are needed across Dublin so people can refill and reduce the number of waste with plastic bottles.

We need litter wardens in areas, dog poo is a big issue for people. Some dog owners are just refusing to clean up.Yes, more bins for the dog poo are needed but if people feel that there is a chance they could be caught and fined they will begin to clean up after their dogs. It is becoming a health and safety issue especially for children playing in public areas.

 

I think this is where we can use some of the numerous empty sites in the city to create more green areas and parks. It's vital we create green areas in the city, community gardens and areas for recreation and play. I know in the Donaghmede Local Electoral Area, there are green areas that could be utilised for the community.

 

We need to ensure the parks and green spaces we currently have are protected. Also our parks need to be maintained consistently. Playground equipment kept in good repair and up to date. I believe more community consultation about what people would like in their parks especially with the younger generation so they feel their voices are heard and feel ownership within their community.

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