The government over-reliance on the private sector to deliver the extra homes hasn’t worked. And even if the private sector supplies more homes, they won’t be at affordable prices. We need to stop approaching housing like it’s a commodity, and start building homes. As a Social Democrats councillor, my number-one priority will be to ensure the council plays its part in tackling our housing shortage. We will use the extensive public land that is zoned and suitable for residential development within the Dublin City Council area to build homes that are affordable to rent or buy. I will ensure that every significant council housing proposal is put out for public consultation, has a good social mix, and that amenities and services are central to all plans in order for us to build quality sustainable communities.
Our local council has not done its job on housing. It has not built even one affordable home in the recent past and built just 74 social homes last year with 69 of them being rapid-build modular housing. Discounting modular housing, the council built just five social homes in 2018. It’s time we changed the mindset on the council. We must use public land to deliver thousands of new public homes – both social and affordable – in mixed and well-designed communities.
High rents are driving more and more families into homelessness. In Dublin rents are now an average of 30 percent above their 2008 peak and show no sign of stopping. I support the introduction of a national rent-freeze, applied to every county in Ireland and kept in place until housing supply catches up with demand.
Housing costs across Dublin continue to spiral. High rents are the main driver of families entering homelessness. If we want to tackle homelessness then we have to tackle high rents. People from all backgrounds are struggling to keep up with rent payments or rising house prices and I constantly meet people on the doorsteps who have two or three related families all living under the same roof. Government figures show that more than 10,000 people are homeless; almost 4,000 of our children are homeless. This will continue to rise unless government policy changes urgently.
With concerted changes, the Social Democrats want to: 1) Prioritise public land banks to deliver homes with good social and tenure mix; 2) Improve funding for direct builds and allow Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to build affordable houses; 3) Impose severe penalties against land hoarders. We are in an emergency and hoarding is not acceptable; 4) Introduce proper rents cap and rent regulation and give people certainty; 5) Provide new rights for tenants.
Derelict and vacant sites are not just a waste of land, they are an eyesore that affect quality of life across the community. As a councillor, I will support the Vacant Site Levy to ensure precious land in the heart of our city is put to productive use for the benefit of young and old.
The Social Democrats are committed to significant investment in both urban and rural public transport. We believe that the National Development Plan was a missed opportunity with too little provided to this sector. We believe the National Development Plan should be redrawn so that public transport and cycling are re-prioritised. This simply has to happen in order to reduce carbon emissions from the sector and to be able to plan for additional housing and sustainable communities.
As a councillor, I will campaign strongly on behalf of the Kimmage/Rathmines communities for significant improvements in local public transport. We will use every power available to local councillors to facilitate the expansion of public transport services in our communities. The Social Democrats are campaigning in favour of directly-elected mayors for Limerick, Galway, Dublin, Waterford and Cork. We strongly believe that these mayors should assume responsibility for transport planning in each of these cities.
We will put transport planning at the heart of all significant housing plans. We must end the practice of building homes before we build the infrastructure that new communities will depend on. We will ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are heard and responded to in all transport decisions affecting our council areas. We will continue to campaign for lower fares so that the use of public transport is encouraged and congestion reduced. We will seek to ensure that council officials are responsive to local traffic concerns and that requests for roads repairs, traffic lights, pedestrian lights, filter lights, yellow boxes, bollards, ramps and all aspects of traffic management and roads maintenance are dealt with promptly and efficiently.
We will seek to change legislation so that the National Transport Authority (NTA) must attend local authority meetings when requested to do so. The response of the NTA has sometimes been found wanting in this regard. We will ensure that the public know about every significant transport and traffic proposal relating to their community and that their voice is heard in the decision-making process.
Our roads are not safe for cyclists and I want to change this.
Firstly there should be a national budget for cycling. I support the campaign for at least 10 percent of transport budgets to go to cycling this would help to: 1) Build more cycle tracks that are separated from other traffic, like the one being proposed by the National Transport Authority which would run along both the north and south quays; 2) We could hire more cycling officers to promote cycling in schools and teach children the rules of the road; 3) We could also create new cycling greenways across the county.
As a councillor for Dublin City Council, I will ensure that the council adopts a cycling plan for the county and city, and have a long-term plan to build cycling into everything we do as a city and county. I have recently started an online petition at www.change.org to bring Dublinbikes to our area that I plan to present to Dublin City Council in the coming weeks.
We all have to do our part on climate change. For my part, I am pledging that my party will prioritise: 1) a switch to electric vehicles, cycling and public transport; 2) the expansion of offshore wind energy; 3) a fair level of carbon tax that penalises polluters but doesn’t push people into poverty; 4) And a new grants scheme for insulating homes that is available to everyone.
Recycling: Our council needs to up its game on recycling. We need more recycling centres and they should open longer in the evenings and weekends to make it easier to recycle. The council can do much more to inform residents about what goes in each bin – and if it can’t go in the recycling bin then where it can be recycled. It should be much easier to get rid of items such as soft plastics, old toys, couches, paints, mattresses etc and to ensure that these are recycled as much as possible. We all have to play our part for a cleaner environment. Help me make the council play its part.
We have too many dumping black spots in Kimmage and Rathmines. The culprits have no respect for our environment or our laws. There’s really no excuse for it. I want to get the council much more involved in enforcing anti-dumping laws. I believe fines should be significantly increased so that there is a proper deterrent. There are unfortunately particularly estates, roads etc that seem to be targeted and I would like to engage in discussions with Dublin City Council around monitoring this, be it through CCTV or another mechanism that would help prevent this behaviour.
Dog dirt: So many people have mentioned the issue of dog litter to me. It’s a real nuisance as well as presenting a danger to public health. It’s a difficult issue to deal with but I want our council to try out a simple experiment that has worked well in Beaumont in Dublin in recent years. This involved placing doggie-bag dispensers at entry points to the local park with free doggie bags for the past few years. This has very significantly reduced the problem there and it’s time we tried it.
In terms of litter on our streets and neighbourhoods, I have all too often walked past bins that are full to capacity. We need to increase the number of general litter bins in the Kimmage/Rathmines area, not only for dog litter but also more general waste. We must ensure they are emptied as frequently as possible. Finally by promoting and funding events like "Street Feast" which will take place in May, we are getting people out of their homes and socialising together on their roads and estates. This gives residents a sense of connection and also a sense of pride in their street, which in turn encourages more people to get involved in events like community clean-ups.
Open green space provides many advantages for sport and recreation, preservation of natural environments thus green space must be a key consideration in planning if the health of our city and its people are considered important. Dublin City Council’s own development plan states: “Open space and recreation areas are a key component to quality of life for citizens and visitors to the city.”
As a councillor I will ensure that we adhere to this, and ensure provision of parks and green spaces is a priority and must be seen a crucial part of any new developments in the area. The emergence in recent years in certain council areas of midnight leagues, passports for leisure, and the park run phenomenon shows that councils can play a huge role in keeping people active – parks and green spaces are a crucial part of that. I would like to further develop these types of initiatives.
Our neighbourhoods shopping streets are the flagships of our communities. If they look well, our whole area looks well. One of my priorities is to improve the appearance and layout of our shopping streets in the Kimmage/Rathmines area. I’d like the council to have a specific plan to enhance every neighbourhood shopping area – no matter how small. We need more variety, not just pubs, bookies, and takeaways, and there should be an individual plan for parking, vacant premises, litter, flowerbeds, and access.
Sometimes the little things can make a big difference. I would also like to replicate a project rolled out in other councils that could help this. South Dublin County Council run an award-winning project and set aside €300,000 and asked the community for suggestions on what it should be spent on. Everyone, including children, got a vote. The winning projects included a hurling wall, a playground, recycling facilities and a community orchard. I want to bring community budgeting to communities’ right here in Dublin City Council.