1. Are you for or against the elimination of the local property tax?
Labour is against the elimination of the local property tax. Labour has ensured that 80 percecnt of the local property tax can be retained by local areas to improve local amenities and services. The property tax is a progressive tax on wealth because the more expensive your property the more you pay in tax. Abolishing it would be a regressive step.
2. Are you for or against repealing the 8th Amendment?
Labour is in favour of repealing the 8th Amendment. It’s high time that this generation was given the right to choose – through a referendum – whether the 8th Amendment should remain in our Constitution. No other major political party or grouping will deliver this referendum. Labour’s manifesto also commits us to campaign strongly to win a referendum.
3. Are you for or against the creation of a directly elected mayor for the Dublin area, with greater powers over, housing, transport and revenue raising?
In Dublin, Labour is committed to holding a plebiscite on the establishment of a directly elected mayor. This is necessary to provide Dublin city and county with the focused leadership to compete as a modern, dynamic capital.
4. Who should be responsible for setting minimum apartment standards, local authorities or the national government?
The responsibility for setting minimum apartment standards should be the remit of a relevant local authority.
5. Are you for or against ending religious patronage of all schools?
Labour believes that more needs to be done to provide greater school choice. We will provide a further 100 multi-denominational schools by 2021 – doubling the current number. Labour will amend the Equal Status Act, to ensure that publicly funded schools prioritise children from the local community, rather than focusing on their religion.
6. Are you for or against the provision of medically supervised injection centres in Dublin?
Labour will continue to support medically supervised injecting centres, to protect the public and minimise cross-contamination amongst drug users.
7. Are you for or against giving asylum seekers the right to work?
Ensuring a fair and humane system for asylum and refugee applications remains a core task.
In government, Labour has overseen the publication of a report into the protection process including the direct-provision system. This report included 176 recommendations, some of which we have begun to implement, including the waiving of prescription charges for those living in direct provision and increasing the rate allowance paid to children living in these centres.
We have also passed an International Protection Act, which will see new applications for asylum processed more quickly to ensure people are not left living in limbo for many years while their application is pending.
If re-elected, we will continue to implement the recommendations within the report to ensure that those seeking asylum are treated with dignity and respect whilst they await the outcome of their application. We will also continue to work on developing comprehensive immigration legislation, which is transparent and clear for those wishing to work and live in the state.
8. What, if anything, should be done about Irish Water?
Labour believes that Irish Water should continue as a national water utility. 20,000 people have already been removed from boil-water notices. Spare capacity in the Dublin region has increased from 2 percent to 8 percent and represents significant progress towards the industry standard of 15 percent. The old system for delivering water and sewage services by 34 local authorities had failed.
The Labour Party has always been deeply committed to ensuring that the provision of our water supply remains in public ownership. Labour may reconvene the successful, citizen-led Constitutional Convention to examine whether it is deemed necessary or workable to propose a constitutional amendment to recognise the role of the state as custodian of the natural environment.
9. Are you for or against the immediate introduction of a vacant-land levy in Dublin?
The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015, which commenced in September 2015, introduced a number of reforms including the introduction of a vacant-site levy.
Labour favours the introduction of a new land-development tax to further incentivise productive land use and tackle land hoarding. The expansion of the vacant-site levy into a land-development tax will apply to residential and commercially zoned land whose owners are not actively and demonstrably seeking to develop it.
10. Are you for or against banning zero-hour employment contracts?
Labour is committed to ending abusive zero-hour and low-hour contracts. We will address abuses of zero-hour and low-hour contracts, we will legislate to prohibit the casualisation of workers. We commissioned and published Ireland’s first report on zero-hour and low-hour contracts – and we are committed to implementing its recommendations.
11. Are you for or against ending unvouched expenses for TDs and councillors?
My colleague, Minister Brendan Howlin, introduced a range of reforms regarding unvouched expenses. He eliminated the unvouched element of the Public Representational Allowance (PRA), subject to permitting monthly expenditure in the nature of “petty cash” for incidental expenses per month of €100 for each deputy and €75 for each senator. He also eliminated the unvouched options of the secretarial support allowances. I think there should be further reform.
12. Are you for or against bringing in a new system of independent building inspections carried out by government inspectors to ensure that buildings are built to code?
The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 now require greater accountability for compliance with the building regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction, lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and validation and registration of certificates.
Local authorities as building control authorities already have strong powers of inspection and enforcement under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014. Arrangements for more comprehensive local authority inspections on developments are now in place, and it is intended that these will be enhanced further over time as construction output recovers.
[Editor’s note: there’s more on the building-inspection situation here.]
In preparation for 26 February, we asked candidates running in Dublin for their views on a dozen issues. You can read what all the candidates had to say here.