Citizens’ agenda
Local elections 2019

Mary Freehill

Labour candidate for Kimmage-Rathmines

Yes, I have always worked in the interest of social housing over my 35 years on the council. Recently along with the Labour group we managed to bring the council with us to stop the manager selling off 32 waste management depots across the city. We got a commitment from the council that these sites will be project managed by the council for social and affordable housing. Also see answer three below.


The first answer to this is to increase supply and when we do that we need to set a fair-rent mechanism and security of tenure as they have in other European cities.


We need a state-led approach to spend €13 billion to build 80,000 homes on public-owned land. Labour has been calling for the establishment of a National Housing Development Bank which would replace the existing Housing Agency and the Housing Finance Agency and will take resources, including land and expert staff, from NAMA. NAMA's resources must be put to use to deliver public housing, and not continue to be sold to the private market at the cost of those tenants vulnerable to homelessness.


When I chaired the Planning and Development Strategic Policy Committee I set up a working group when we produced a report on levies on vacant sites. Alan Kelly was the first minister who was prepared to address our report and bring in the levy. As he was a minority in a coalition it was compromised and I would like to see a stronger levy on smaller sites and shorter vacant timespan.


Sadly public transport is not part of our city council competency. (By the way, since 2005 we have lost competencies in tourism, water, traffic, health, port and docks and now the minister is interfering with the development plan. Ireland is the most centralised country in Europe and has least democracy below Leinster House-level. It was always poor but further deteriorated since the dual mandate went in 2000. That’s an interesting story for another day).

I would like to see a commitment for underground metros. There is an ideological opposition to subsidising public transport in this country. If you read all the reports they tend to fall down on lack of willingness to invest and subsidise, that’s why we get inadequate proposals. I was working in Sofia recently and I was taken on a tour of the tunnelling they are doing for an underground metro. If Sofia in Bulgaria, one of the poorest countries in Europe can do it, so can Dublin.


Part of the difficulty right now with some proposals is the lack of interaction with residents which has caused trust to breakdown. We need a more co-operative approach to make things happen.


As we say in the EU, co-operation with the citizen is key. In the next council, I would like to see working groups in each local area committee that sets objectives and works with communities to achieve them.


The council has a plan where they work with communities but I do think a lot more is needed, I suppose more wardens and more bins would be a start. It's probably not widely enough known that council offices and libraries supply biodegradable bags free of charge.


In my area we have done quite well on this. That is why the Labour Party got Z15 zoning agreed that all institutional lands if there is a change of use, that 25 percent of the land must be used for public open space.


I have always taken a strong position on this and am very slow to agree selling off council land. I am more interested in the council developing for public use.

This is a project by Dublin Inquirer, a reader-funded local newspaper covering Ireland's capital, and CivicTech·ie. You can support local journalism by becoming a Dublin Inquirer subscriber.