Dublin City Councillors started their first monthly meeting after their summer break by discussing the lack of progress on the affordable housing crisis – and criticising Fine Gael Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy for not attending the meeting.
Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha, of Sinn Féin, had invited the minister to come along to talk to councillors, but had been told Murphy wanted to wait until he’d published his review of the government’s Rebuilding Ireland housing strategy before meeting with the council, he said.
At City Hall on Monday, Fine Gael Councillor Paddy McCartan spoke up on behalf of Murphy, saying the minister would visit the council for a special meeting in September. “He is prepared to do that,” said McCartan.
The fact that Murphy didn’t come to the meeting doesn’t mean he isn’t committed to solving the problem, McCartan said. “There are going to be radical proposals in this review,” he said.
Councillors voted to press ahead with moves to return the rundown but iconic Iveagh Markets to the control of Dublin City Council.
The motion, signed by a group of councillors from Labour, Sinn Féin and People Before Profit and passed without debate, said that developer Martin Keane has failed to meet the terms of extension for the lease granted by Dublin City Council.
Keane set out grand plans for the markets and surrounding buildings. He said there would be bars, restaurants, apartments, and a hotel, and that the main market would be focused on selling Irish crafts.
His plans had been stalled by the financial crisis, he said in 2015. But at the time he said he expected the markets to reopen in 2019.
A Place to Complain
There was rare agreement in the council chamber at People Before Profit Councillor Andrew Keegan’s proposal that there should be an independent agency to rule on complaints and grievances that tenants in social housing might have against their landlord (the council).
At the moment, tenants in the private market can go to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), but those in social housing don’t have that path for redress.
Independent Councillor Ruairi McGinley said that, in his experience, council tenants have had to go through the courts to get some issues dealt with. So it would be good to have a body like the RTB for them.
Some suggested the motion should go further. “I think we need to see tenants being part of the estate management,” said Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn. That way, they would have a real say in how their homes and apartments are managed.
Council management’s head of housing, Brendan Kenny, said he would welcome this, but that it would be a national issue to set up such an agency. The proposal was referred to the housing committee for debate and more detail.
The Clontarf Cycle Route
Councillors delayed a decision on whether to move on to the next step in the long-planned Clontarf cycle route that would run from the north-east of the city to Amiens Street.
Back in July, before the summer break, councillors were split on plans for the cycle route.
There was disagreement on whether it was okay for there to be two one-way cycle tracks, rather than one segregated two-way cycle track, and some councillors had concerns over lost parking spaces, and the potential felling of tens of mature trees.
On Monday night, councillors said they hadn’t had time to consider the latest iteration of the plan for the cycle route, which was developed after July’s meeting, to address concerns.
Among other things, the most recent plan sticks with the one-way cycle tracks, but saves the majority of the trees by getting rid of “a section of inbound general traffic lane”, according to a council report.
The council plans to look again at the Clontarf cycle route at a future monthly meeting.