It must be pointed out that there are no quick-fix solutions when it comes to delivering affordable homes. I recognise there is a problem with the provision of affordable homes.
Achieving medium-term goals must become a priority. Homelessness does not discriminate, any solution agreed where possible should be cross-party. Just as we should unite politically to identify solutions so to should we collaborate with key members on the Dublin City Council housing committee: individuals such as Anthony Flynn, director of housing delivery, and Eileen Gleeson, director of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, along with Dublin City Council housing head Brendan Kenny.
In Dublin, land is at a premium, and I am of the view that we need to look seriously at increasing density, particularly in the city. Building up as opposed to out remains one of the options. This debate should be reactivated.
I also welcome an initiative proposed by Dublin City Council where we should consider the housing model used in Vienna, while it is worthy of consideration there needs to be a fundamental shift in our approach and attitude to long-term renting.
The only way we can provide rental property at affordable prices in the city is to increase density in order to increase the number of units. I am in favour of building up but not at any cost. A considered and measured view needs to be adopted when designating areas which could be earmarked for higher-density buildings. I am not convinced that Rent-Pressure Zones will solve the problem, nor the restrictions on Airbnb operators.
Providing tenants with long-term leases and greater protection is an option. This requires a delicate balancing act. Landlords also have a part to play and should be incentivised to participate in any scheme that will have a positive impact on the problems faced in the rental sector.
Tackling homelessness is a complex issue and should not be treated as "one solution fits all". People become homeless for a myriad of reasons there may be dependency issues, mental-health issues and there are those who for financial reason may have to leave their homes.
I recognise that the state can provide remedial accommodation for homeless people, I also understand why some do not wish to take up temporary accommodation.
Temporary solutions are unacceptable and it is our responsibility not just as councillors but as citizens of this state to protect the most vulnerable in society.
The provision of greater resources for the necessary support agencies is crucial. Providing legal and financial counsel for those who find themselves in mortgage arrears needs to be stepped up. By establishing a half-way-house model with access to support structures needs to be debated, with the view to placing individuals in long-term accommodation with support when and if required.
There is no question in my mind that speculators are sitting on such sites with the aim of increasing potential sale prices. I am pro-business and pro-profit but greed is where I draw the line. If elected I would be positively predisposed to supporting measures that penalise such individuals. I would support an initiative whereby individuals who did not sell sites within a certain period would face a tax liability. I would propose a “failure to sell tax” for every month they exceed the deadline.
In my ward, the BusConnects issue remains at the forefront of the minds of a sizeable number of voters. I have seriously questioned the manner in which it is being introduced without any meaningful engagement. Change is painful, particularly when you may be directly affected by losing a section of your garden. But a fit-for-purpose public-transport infrastructure will benefit us all. I believe there is a need to examine the possibility of providing a public transport initiative along the M50 that would service transport hubs on the main exits and would ultimately service the city and its surroundings.
In comparison with other European capitals, we have been slow adopters when it comes to using the bicycle in the city. Extending the cycle pathways outside the city is something that I support. As a regular cyclist I also support laws where cyclists are given precedence over motorists in the city as they do in Amsterdam. I would lobby for further funding for cycle lanes. I also support the Clontarf Cycle Route despite headlines of it costing €20 million. However, if one looks behind the figures you will note the extensive ancillary works that will be carried out during the construction phase, hence the cost.
Homelessness, better transport infrastructure and green areas in our city will become a sideshow unless we take seriously the threat of climate change. We are choking the world with emissions and slowly drowning it in a sea of plastic. There is nothing I would rule out aside from nuclear power in order to halt the slow death of our planet.
Land is at a premium in Dublin City and its outskirts. There is already a responsibility on the local authority to make provision for public parks and their upkeep. As a city we are served well by public parks. Utilising the parks facilities in order that they best serve those who regularly use them remains a priority. I have no doubt that there are small pockets of green spaces that have not been developed. Community engagement with council support would turn such areas into an oasis in the city. Our boardwalk on the Liffey is one of the jewels in the crown of Dublin. In recent times it has become a meeting place for drug dealers and addicts. I for one feel uncomfortable walking along it. A greater Garda presence is required which I will fight for.
Any attempt to undermine the character, or for that matter to change the designation of public spaces in Dublin, is something that I would vigorously oppose. Invariably these are areas and sites that define our city. I am strongly of the view that we should look beyond areas of an historic nature and look at potential sites/parks/buildings in collaboration with communities that have the potential to be developed regardless of their size in order to provide amenities for our citizens.