Diarmuid Mac Dubhghlais
Republican Sinn Féin
The state and various councils are sitting on many boarded-up houses. These could and should be brought up to standard in a short time. Take, for example the Dominick Luas stop in Dublin: at least half the flats there have been empty since before the Luas was completed (Google images of the Luas line). If half are still occupied then the complete blocks are at least compliant with safety standards so the empty ones need to be brought into a habitable condition.
Part of the high rent issue is caused by the lack of council/affordable houses, compounded by what seems to be a block on state funding for new social housing. So bringing the existing stock up to standard can start a move towards stabilising rental prices. I would also look to bring forward rent control and ban "viewing fees". Alongside these measures I would look at the issue of vulture funds and pension funds buying up complete housing projects and apartment blocks as developers will sooner sell complete blocks/projects in one lot as opposed to individuals over a longer period of time.
The selling of distressed mortgages at discounted prices must be halted. All banks should offer the same discount to the home owner before it is offered to any other group with housing organisations being offered them before any vulture fund. We need only look at how Clúid worked with Cork County Council and bought the Leeside apartment block, enabling the current tenants, who were fighting eviction, to remain and the remaining empty apartments will be filled with tenants from the council housing list.
The positive moves from my answers to questions 1 and 2 would be a good beginning to reduce the numbers of homeless. Proper funding to the likes of Peter McVerry Trust, iCare Housing and Clúid would be another way. Those charities and trusts seem better capable of erecting housing schemes that deal with this issue as opposed to private developers who are motivated by profit. The sale of semi-completed or completed Nama properties and portfolios at knockdown prices is little short of criminal. I will work to end this immediately.
Again, I have dealt with part of this above, there are also a number of private dwellings let go to ruin for a number of reasons. Owners or relatives should be contacted to see how best bring these into use.
Public transport has been underfunded for far too long, and we now have the better-off routes in cities being given to private companies. These companies have one purpose – to make profits for shareholders/owners. If these routes become unprofitable, private companies will cease the route. I would move towards rolling back on the privatisation of public transport routes. Another obvious option to run alongside this is to properly fund our public transport. We need to ensure public transport is run on time, and I would look to improve access for people with disabilities. I am aware that some Bus Éireann routes have no wheelchair access.
The obvious answer is for more cycling lanes and better advertisement of the Cycle to Work Scheme. Alongside this, there needs to be proper investment in our roads, which are still littered with potholes, and a mandatory co-ordination of roadworks. It is long past time where one utility company digs up a road in March, only for another company to dig it again later in the year. With better public transport there would be fewer cars on the roads, thus freeing up the space for cycle lanes.
I have seen and promoted local children and schools involved in planting saplings in one of our local parks through Easy Treesie. This initiative gives our younger generation hands-on experience in working towards a better environment and will hopefully give them pride in it. I would also work towards the ending of the unnecessary felling of mature trees in our parks and universities, indeed all across our country. I have seen in some countries (in Germany, at Lidl) vending machines where plastic bottles and metal cans can be inserted and vouchers issued for shopping. This can and should be brought in here. I would look for the return of it being mandatory for drinks companies to get involved in a deposit/return scheme. Many European countries have this and Ireland did have it, although that was a long time ago.
This state has a haphazard attitude to illegal commercial dumping, with fines being miniscule. Companies see it as worth the risk to dump illegally and if caught the state will clean the mess and issue a small fine, this has to be tackled, with the fines way outweighing any cost savings of disposing illegally. As a councillor I will work towards those in Leinster House enacting legislation.
For dog poo and general litter, we need to get back to a time of wardens to encourage people to take up dropped litter/dog poo. Sometimes a gentle reminder works.
Regarding poster litter, as a first-time, independent candidate I need to get my face out there so people know who I am, but I am also aware of the impact of thousands of posters on the environment and how unsightly they are. I will not be using Corriboard as I have been told it is not recyclable. I have spoken to friends around this constituency asking could they put a paper/cardboard poster in their house window or car window, all of which I will collect and put away for the next election.
My constituency has a lot of green space, but most is underutilised. It is not enough to have a green field (space) with a few trees here and there. We need these spaces to become amenities by installing small playgrounds or an outdoor gym. This will have several beneficial aspects, including bringing members of the community together as their children/grandchildren play, and getting our younger children away from anti-social behaviour. Any new housing developments should have to have a playground as part of their planning, with this amenity completed to proper standard before any house is occupied. I also believe we should have park wardens to keep an eye out for anti-social behaviour in our amenities.
For too long now councils and the state have allowed certain green spaces to become overgrown or havens for anti-social behaviour so as to then have them re-designated for some form of building, I will look to have all green space and parks protected against development by council ordinance or legislation, likewise I will work towards the ending of the sale of council land to private developers irrespective of promises for social housing as far too often developers can circumvent such promises.