I am very committed to increasing the supply of social and affordable homes in any way that I can as a city councillor. I outline below some of the approaches I will use in order to deliver on this commitment:
–Continue to support the building of social and affordable housing on public lands.
–Continue my track record of actively contributing to the formulation of Dublin City Development Plans in the area of housing provision: e.g., I intervened during the drafting of the present Dublin City Development Plan (2016–2022) in order that the housing strategy review could be brought forward significantly with the intention of escalating DCC’s response to our housing shortage.
–Continue my efforts to decrease the refurbishment turnaround time of vacant/boarded-up publicly owned homes. I have called on DCC management to increase the numbers of back-office staff to administer/monitor refurbishments and to use teams of both DCC employed tradesmen and private contractors to increase turnaround volume.
–Continue to address the problem of derelict sites and the opportunities they offer for addressing housing supply. DCC has a derelict site register and financial penalties are attached to sites that remain derelict and unused. However, I do feel that there can be improvements in this area and I am working on this particular aspect at the moment. Also a DCC staff/councillor-led task-force to identify gaps in legislation that are needed to make it possible to fast-track derelict sites to planning/construction stage is warranted and I will be proposing this. I know that some sites are locked in probate and other site owners may be elderly and incapacitated and this needs to be looked at for a way that will respect their rights on the one hand, but lead to a faster solution on the other.
–Continue to support consideration of other jurisdictions’ housing models: e.g., DCC is looking at the Vienna model of housing, which is a means-tested and needs-based model of publicly owned homes based on a cost-rental approach.
Local authorities need to build more cost-rental housing stock on public lands. There is often an argument raised regarding the heavy amount of regulation involved with local-authority projects and this regulation needs to be looked at and removed or greatly lessened. I believe that we need to make the Rent Pressure Zones more effective, as I don’t believe they are working. The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) needs to have statutory powers of investigation as it is not sufficiently effective in its current state. Rental standards need to be increased and I believe that the mooted national rent deposit scheme is a good idea to prevent unscrupulous landlords from keeping deposits.
The lack of housing supply/affordable housing (as addressed in Question 1) is, I believe, the primary reason for homelessness. Furthermore, there are many families and children now living in family hubs and the lasting effect particularly mentally this can have on these children should be an absolute priority. The government has a "rainy day" fund and I believe that for these homeless families including children, the rainy day is now. Whatever resource is necessary should be used to enhance the quality of children’s lives in these hubs. At the time of the early family hubs in my locality I intervened in order that families would be treated humanely. This intervention helped to set down a template regarding the treatment of homeless families. I was previously a voluntary director of a homeless charity Stepping Stone and we were involved at the early stages of the Housing First initiative and I would encourage a further roll-out of this scheme for homeless people, particularly those with addiction problems. I believe that some consolidation within the voluntary sector is needed. I know that Stepping Stone gave over their housing stock to the Peter McVerry Trust. We need to think outside the box a little more in the provision of beds for homeless people including an inventory of available empty office space.
DCC has a Derelict Sites Register and financial penalties are attached to sites that remain derelict and unused. However, I do feel that there can be improvements in this area. There is a need for a DCC staff/councillor-led task force to identify gaps in legislation that are needed to make it possible to fast track derelict sites to planning/construction stage. I know that some sites are locked in probate and this needs to be looked at also. I have addressed the boarded-up homes issue in Question 1 above.
I would position myself on the Transport Strategic Policy Group within DCC and use that position to further liaise with National Transport Authority/ Dublin Bus/ Irish Rail to improve services. Public transport needs to be more accessible and include more orbital routes. The cost of public transport is very expensive and many bus users pay €1,400 per annum for a standing journey. There needs to be better provision at Dart stations for commuters with mobility issues. For example, staff should be readily available to assist with wheelchair ramp usage, and when lifts in Dart stations break down there should be back-up plans. There is a need also for staff presence in order to provide passive security at stations. Irish rail will shortly be going to tender for the production of more rail stock to satisfy demand and the production of this rail stock needs to be fast tracked.
I would continue to input into the Dublin City Development Plan to improve cycling infrastructure. I proposed several amendments to the Dublin City Development Plan 2016–2022 to encourage cycling in the city. These included immediate improvements to thoroughfares and junctions; that road safety audits be made public; that awareness and education be increased through initiatives such as Green Schools travel flags. I also signed up for the cyclingforall.ie campaign and will do my best to further its principles of space, priority, continuity and quality, permeability, contra-flow for cycling, and integration/connectivity for cyclists. I am a cyclist, recovering from a bad cycling injury so I know how dangerous it can be.
I am working to increase DCC’s current recycling capacity and have made a submission to DCC’s Climate Action Plan in this regard. Currently, there are a range of potentially recyclable goods (e.g. small scrunchy plastic and certain black plastics) that DCC does not have the proper machinery to recycle. I am working to make sure this machinery is provided. The recycling centre closest to my local electoral area, Shamrock Terrace, North Strand, is too small and I believe that DCC needs to move to a larger recycling premises as I see a lot of recycling opportunities at a larger more accessible premises (employment also). I will also push to extend opening times at bring centres.
–I am working on introducing "3 for the Sea" along our coasts.
–I continue to work to make cycling a safer and more attractive option.
–I proposed DCC traffic safety audits near our local schools to implement safety measures to encourage children to walk to school.
–In addition, I am actively involved with several local environmental groups.
Illegal dumping and litter are a scourge on our city. We need harder hitting and more effective legislation. DCC staff in waste management are aware of legal loop-holes and anomalies and their knowledge should be tapped into. Every litter black spot should have CCTV and the public should be encouraged to report on dumpers via a national campaign. There are not enough offenders being prosecuted and the reasons for this need to be addressed. The Litter Pollution Acts 1996–2008, need to be more robust: e.g., for a dog owner to be prosecuted for uncollected dog dirt, that owner needs to be "in control" of their dog; thus, "roaming/unanaccompanied" dogs are not included in the act. Furthermore, legislation should include a stipulation that dog owners carry means on their person to clean up after their dog. More dog-litter bins are required and DCC’s Green Dog Walker Scheme needs to be broadened. There also needs to be more litter wardens and more audits of which households have or have not rubbish collection contracts. I am a member of several environmental clean-ups and have been instrumental in the setting up of adopt-a-street groups in my electoral area.
Firstly, I would continue to copper-fasten and protect existing green spaces by continuing to actively participate in the City Development Plan. I would continue to seek out spaces for roof top gardens, vertical gardens and community gardens etc. I would continue to work with "a Playful City" to continue to make best use of the green spaces we have also. I am very much involved with the protection of North Bull Island and Dublin Bay Biosphere.
I would continue to use the Dublin City Development Plan in this regard as mentioned in Question 9 above. The formulation of the Development Plan is a rigorous process and I have had many of my proposals adopted by Dublin City Council during my tenure as a city councillor. In terms of making Dublin city a nicer, place to be, I think the arts have a key role to play. One of the downsides of the property crisis is the flight of artists from our city and many have described it as our "creative soul departing". I would endeavour to input into the next City Development Plan that more artist studio space is developed etc.