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Local Elections Candidates Speak Out On Main Community Issues

Local Elections Candidates Speak Out On Main Community Issues:

By: Aidan Crowley:

The Dublin City Council (DCC) local and European Parliament elections are fast approaching on Friday 7th June. With this in mind, the Fountain Resource Group – Dublin 8 Newswire posed a series of ten questions to some of the candidates standing for election in both the South-West Inner City and Ballyfermot-Drimnagh constituencies for the DCC local elections.

These questions cover the main issues and concerns affecting the local residents of the sprawling Dublin 8 and Dublin 12 catchment areas, as follows:

Fountain Resource Group – Dublin 8 Newswire:

(1) Housing is going to be one of the main issues on the doorsteps, during canvassing. What are your views on the current housing situation in these two constituencies, particularly regarding the provision of more social housing stock, as a matter of urgency?

(2) Immigration has recently become a very hot topic. There has been a dramatic increase in street protests and also major objections to the locations for accommodation of recently-arrived immigrants and refugees. What are your views on the current situation in this regard and what suggestions would you make to tackle the issues involved, head-on?

(3) There would appear to be an over-development of apartment blocks (both private and social housing) in both of these constituencies. What are your views on this and do you think that a limit should be set on these type of developments, going forward?

(4) There are many buildings and other local features of major historical importance in both of these constituencies, particularly in the Inchicore and Kilmainham catchment areas. What are your views on the conservation, preservation and restoration of these structures and other points of historical interest? What proposals would you make to ensure that they are preserved for future generations and not allowed to fall into a state of disrepair?

(5) When it comes to the education of local children in both of these constituencies, do you think that there are enough schools in these catchment areas to provide an adequate educational service to the local communities? If not, should more be built?

(6) Do you think that refuse collections in both of these constituencies should be returned to public (DCC) operation? The companies currently operating this service are all private contractors and there are major issues with employee working conditions and levels of wages. What are your overall views on this issue?

(7) There is currently a proposal to establish a BusConnects traffic corridor in the Kilmainham catchment area, as a template for future public transport streamlining. What are your views on this type of public transport strategy in these two constituencies?

(8) Do you think that there is enough green space i.e. public parks and other recreational facilities provided for the local communities in both of these constituencies? If not, what do you propose to do about this issue, if you are elected?

(9) Some areas of these two constituencies are lacking in proper sporting facilities. The lack of football pitches in the Liberties area of Dublin 8 springs to mind. What are your views on this issue and what action would you take, if you are elected?

(10) Will you be taking an ideological stand on any of the above issues, in line with your political allegiances, if you are elected?

Our first response was from Ray Cunningham, who is a Green Party candidate for the Ballyfermot-Drimnagh constituency:

(1) The shortage of affordable, secure, housing is something that comes up again and again when I talk to people. There are grown adults living with their parents because they can’t find a place of their own. People living in crowded and badly-maintained housing, people paying too much in rent to save and still worried that they will be evicted.

We need to build more housing, a lot more. The private sector won’t build at the scale we need, it has to be publicly-funded. That includes both social housing and cost-rental housing. Social housing because there are lengthy waiting lists for all kinds of social housing. Cost-rental housing because there are al lot of people who earn too much for social housing, but deserve to have good quality housing, at rents that are lower than the market rate, with security of tenure. We are finally starting to build at the rate that we need, but we have a lot of catching up to do.

(2) I think that the people protesting outside refugee accommodation and the houses of politicians, are a tiny minority of society. Most people remember our own history of emigration and are willing to give new arrivals to Ireland a chance. People come to Ireland to find work, to build a better life for themselves and their families, the same reasons why so many Irish people went to England, the US and Australia. We need to identify services that may become overstretched and provide more funding, where necessary. We need to help people to integrate into their new communities.

(3) I disagree that there is an over-development of apartment blocks in these two constituencies. The first question was about the shortage of housing – building apartments is providing housing. Many of the people looking for housing. on the housing list, or looking for rentals, are single people and couples.

They want a place of their own and they don’t want to commute from Laois – building apartments means that we can build the accommodation people need in the places they want to live. They have to be high quality, they have to have access to green spaces and facilities and they have to be affordable. But all of those things are possible to deliver, as we see in cities across Europe.

(4) This is something that the Green Party councillor for the South-West Inner City, Michael Pidgeon, has been very active on. He secured funding for the restoration of Kilmainham Mills and for the preservation of the Iveagh Markets (while the court cases over ownership drag on). It’s important to keep buildings like this in use, as community resources, because if they are left empty, they quickly fall into decay.

(5) No, there is a shortage of schools, in particular secondary schools in the area. There is also a lack of variety in the secondary schools available. I fully support the Educate D8 group in their campaign for a new school.

(6) Yes, I think that bin collections should be taken back under the control of DCC.

(7) I think that we need to provide a better public transport service, so that people are not relying on private cars for most journeys. Buses need to be frequent, fast and reliable. BusConnects can help with this by making buses more frequent, running more 24-hour buses and giving buses priority in traffic on the major spines. But we can’t neglect the local routes that older people and stay-at-home parents often use for getting around their neighbourhood. We can’t make commuter journeys better at the expense of everyone else.

The other important element of BusConnects is that it includes a network of safe cycling infrastructure, alongside the bus routes. Protected cycling routes are essential if we’re going to make it possible for people to cycle to work, to school, to the shops – all sorts of everyday journeys.

(8) In general, there is enough green space in Ballyfermot-Drimnagh. The problem is not quantity but quality. We need to provide more benches, more trees, more bins and more playgrounds to make these spaces more usable by the community.

One major problem is that half of Lansdowne Valley Park, the old pitch and putt course, has been closed for years. This leaves a lot of Drimnagh residents without easy access to a park. We need to re-open this as soon as possible, build a playground for the local kids and connect both halves of the park, so that people can walk and cycle through, between Walkinstown, Drimnagh and Inchicore.

(9) Michael Pidgeon, the Green Party councillor for the South-West Inner City, recently won a major battle with the council on the provision of a sports pitch on Marrowbone Lane. I’ll be supporting him 100% on delivering this pitch.

(10) I’m running for election because I think that environmental action, a Green vision, will make this city better. It means building homes whwere people want to live and services around them, which they can access in a few minutes on foot or on a bike – not isolated estates in the middle of nowhere.

It means providing good public transport and safe walking and cycling, so people can get around the city. It means making our streets safer and our air cleaner. It means preserving nature and giving everyone a chance to access nature. If elected, I’ll work hard to deliver a better city for everyone.

Our second response was from Maire Devine, who is a Sinn Fein candidate for the South-West Inner City constituency:

(1) I have a robust, costed and realistic housing policy that emphasises the delivery of social and affordable homes. As a member of 4 Regeneration Fora in Dublin 8, the delivery pace is snail slow. Big issues of detenancy and “meantime” living conditions must be at the forefront of regeneration plans.

(2) It’s a difficult and often divisive issue, but one that must have at its core a humanitarian approach. Unprecedented immigration and those seeking refuge. The government’s policy to date has been disastrous – leaving this to one Minister, one Department, for the past number of years.

Planning has been ad hoc and inadequate – leaving communities uninformed and understandably feeling overwhelmed. We need to staff, resource and support our immigration policy – adherence to our national obligations, while making quicker decisions on people’s status. Also, ensuring that those who don’t meet the criteria are returned promptly to the safe country they originated from. We are a newly-formed multi-cultural nation and as a nurse, I know how dependent we are on foreign workers to staff and provide essential healthcare.

(3) Apartments for Dublin have become the only show in town. I would much prefer and have campaigned for houses to be a bigger part of developments. Dublin, traditionally, is a low-rise city – mid-rise is appropriate in providing housing density for our city.

(4) I’ve been very active in protecting the built heritage of Dublin 8. We have so many gems on our doorstep, yet they have been subjected to much neglect. I finally got the stabilisation works implemented at the Iveagh Markets. I am a member of the Inchicore Library Consultative Forum, to plan its care and future use. I am campaigning for the Weir Home For Nurses to revert back to its original use of accommodating frontline workers, so that we can staff our healthcare facilities, especially the new Children’s Hospital.

(5) I am active in the campaign for delivery of a non-secular post-primary school for Dublin 8. At present, students are forced to travel across the city, due to lack of school places in their own neighbourhood.

(6) I fully support and promote the remunicipalisation of our waste services.

(7) We need to decrease traffic within our area. The failure in providing enough public transport options results in traffic jams on the arterial routes on a regular basis. BusConnects is due to expand next year, which will have pros and cons for a settling period. I am asking, again, for the NTA to meet and listen to communities, their concerns and their solutions.

(8) & (9) Public realm needs to continue with the Liberties Greening strategy, provision of play spaces and refurbishment of pocket football pitches. I also want to fast-track the two multi-purpose sports pitches which I have championed – Donore Avenue and Marrowbone Lane.

(10) If Sinn Fein have a democratically decided policy on issues, I will refer to that. I do influence local policy, as I’m best placed to know what our community’s needs are.


Our third response was from Jen Cummins, who is a Social Democrats candidate for the South-West Inner City constituency:

(1) (3) & (4) I would fight to stop long-term leasing as a policy for social housing delivery. It is incredibly wasteful for the council to pay nearly market rent for up to 25 years to a landlord, only then to hand the house back at the end. This money should be diverted towards building social and affordable housing. My party wants to create a specific zoning for affordable housing, so that only genuinely affordable homes can be built in specific areas. The zoning conditions need to ensure that these homes remain affordable in future, even when the initial occupiers move on.

The Social Democrats are fans of the O’ Cualann model for affordable housing delivery, where the subsidy is near the beginning of the process (waiver of levies, cheap land, or early stage financing on favourable terms), rather than via tax breaks, which just inflate the purchase price and line the developers’ pockets.

The Vacant Site Levy failed in large part, due to the fact that a huge number of councils failed to engage with the terms of the Levy. I’ll work to make sure that DCC properly engages with the legislation governing the Residential Zoned Land Tax (RZLT), which replaces the Vacant Site Levy (VSL), this year. This would help to end the underuse of city centre sites, counter land-hoarding and minimise dereliction. Ultimately, we need to get councils back building social housing again, re-building capacity within the council to act as developers and project managers on large housing schemes on public land, rather than passing on that land.

Regarding restoration and conservation, there needs to be incentives to ensure that these sites do not fall into vacancy and dereliction. The appropriate maintenance and upkeep of such historical buildings needs to be ongoing. Like everyone in the Liberties, I’m appalled at how the Iveagh Markets have been allowed to sit idle since 1997. The markets are an important part of the history of the area and so, an important part of our heritage. I want to see the markets restored with a public use and social purpose. There are several buildings within it and the site can accommodate multiple uses, not just a market.

Who owns the  “title” to the markets may be decided in the courts, but taxpayer funding is protecting the buildings, so our community has a right to a say in its future. If elected to Dublin City Council, I will demand a public consultation on the future of the markets.

(2) There is always a need to discuss how to ensure that people are treated fairly and equitably. There is definitely a need to engage people who feel disenfranchised and who do not feel listened to. Discussion and open communication is central to creating safe and inclusive communities. I have worked in education and youth work all my adult life. I would like Dublin to be an inclusive and a welcoming place for everyone who lives and visits here.

When our society is fully resourced and functioning, there is less animosity. There is less need to fight for a scarcity of housing, places to enjoy ourselves, childcare, school places and healthcare facilities. But when communities are starved of such facilities and they feel that they are not listened to, there is a rise in animosity.

There should be no place in our community for hatred, violence or intimidation. I feel strongly that people should lead their lives, without fear of being who they are and reach their full potential. There is no place for discrimination on the basis of where someone comes from, who they love, their ability or their gender.

(5) All of my career has been spent working with children and young people at risk, supporting them to reach their full potential. I have served on the boards of local schools for years and recently stepped down as the national Chairperson of Educate Together. There is evidence from JoAnne Mancini (Maynooth University) that there are not enough multi-denominational second level schools for young people in Dublin 8, with a deficit of 780 places. Parental choice in their child’s education is important and it should be a reflection of the family ethos. I would like to see a multi-denominational second level school for Dublin 8. I also support the Gaelcholaiste 2,4,6,8 group in their fight for a second level school through the Irish language.

Regarding additional needs provision in the area – this is also something that is lacking. That parents with additional needs must fight for every single support that they need for their child, is an absolute disgrace. My party is working with several groups, throughout the country, to support such parents.

(6) I think that refuse collection should be returned to DCC. This is a public service that the state should run.

(7) BusConnects is a very divisive issue in the area. There are huge fears and anger about the effects of the new service and routes, particularly in Kilmainham with the frequency of buses reducing. I think that reducing access to and frequency of public transport is not good enough in the city. I am a cyclist for my daily travel and the volume of traffic has increased since people returned to in-person working. Public transport needs to be easy to use, affordable and frequent in order for people to use it.

(8) No, I do not think that there is enough green space. Dublin 8 has the least amount of green space of anywhere in the country and yet there several spaces around the South-West Inner City that, with some planning, imagination and political will, could be converted into parks or play areas for our community. On the City Council, I will devote myself to increasing the prevalence of parks and playgrounds in the area, as well as sports areas and other green spaces and important amenities. Our community needs green space, just as much as anywhere else in Ireland.

(9) Every neighbourhood needs a community centre where people can meet one another, participate in activities and classes and hold meetings and functions. It is now almost three years since the fire at Donore Avenue Youth and Community Centre, left my community without a facility that was used by countless people and groups. I have been an active advocate for the urgent refurbishment of Donore Community Centre.

On Dublin City Council, one of my top priorities will be to fast-track the development of community spaces, so that organisations can continue to provide much needed services and neighbours have somewhere to meet one another. We need to see the delivery of sporting facilities at Marrowbone Lane and Donore Avenue. These have been promised by DCC, but we must maintain the pressure to ensure they are built. Sport is vital for physical and mental health, as well as the social aspects it brings.

(10) The most basic aspect of the Social Democrats’ ideologies is that there is an important role for the state to take in areas of society such as housing, education and healthcare. The decisions that Social Democrats make are fact and evidence based policies.

Our fourth response was from Patrick Dempsey, who is a Labour Party candidate for the Ballyfermot-Drimnagh constituency:

(1) I am pushing for more social and affordable housing in our city. I want to see more of it and I will support it proactively in Dublin City Council, if elected.

(2) I’ll be honest, immigration does not come up as much as you would think on the doorsteps, or the media would suggest. When it does, it’s often tied to housing and I address that issue, as it is relevant to Councillors. However, on the whole, I think that people are decent and fair.

(3) Apartments are needed to resolve our housing crisis and especially in areas nearer to the city. I will pay attention to all applications, to ensure that they are well designed and are in line with the city development plan.

(4) Dublin City Council should and must maintain properties, including Inchicore Library and offer them for community use.

(5) While education is not a role for Councillors, I would advocate for enough school places to meet the future needs of the area, including Irish language school places.

(6) Yes. We support this at both local and national level.

(7) BusConnects has already received planning permission for this development.

(8) There’s green space in many parts, but others lack like Drimnagh and Inchicore. I want to see open play areas, more trees and more seating, to enjoy weather like we’ve had recently.

(9) We need more all-weather pitches. I will support this, if elected.

(10) All politicians make decisions based on their ideological stances and mine are very well thought out.

Our fifth response was from Michael O’Flanagan, who is an Independent candidate for the South-West Inner City constituency:


(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) & (10) I am a single issue candidate with one priority and one priority only – the restoration and re-opening of the Inchicore Library building for the benefit of all the local community groups who have been deprived of a venue for their activities for the last four years.


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