Aishling Silke

Social Democrats candidate for Artane-Whitehall

How would you help get more housing built in the city – especially social and affordable housing?

To increase the supply of social and affordable housing, I will push the government to increase funding and decision-making power to councils as they have a better insight and understanding of local needs. I will campaign for the direct delivery of public housing. I will fight to prevent council-owned land from being sold to private investors. During the 1930s/40s, Ireland was considered a poor country compared to European neighbours, yet Dublin Cooperation, under the guidance of architect Herbert Simms, built 17,000 houses, including Cabra and Crumlin. The houses were of high quality, and services, including schools, churches, and shops, were built at the same time as the houses. We need to bring back this type of visionary politics and the political will to support it to alleviate the current housing shortage.

How would you help improve conditions in existing housing, both social and privately rented?

Concerning social housing, I would continue to support the retrofitting of social housing, making them more energy efficient and sustainable. I would work to ensure councils complete effective and efficient maintenance and repairs on behalf of their tenants. Looking at a short-term solution with private rental accommodation is more challenging due to Housing Standards being agreed upon at a national level. However, I would fight to ensure DCC is funded sufficiently to conduct inspections on private properties that receive HAPP payments to ensure accommodation meets the Housing Standards. We need a long-term strategy where the councils should be funded to increase the supply of cost-rental housing where rents are affordable, tenants are secure, and they have the right to demand dwelling maintenance. 

What would you do to help make the city feel less dirty, tackling the rubbish and dog poo all over the streets?

One of the issues I have encountered while speaking to people at the doors is the need for more bins. I would push for more bins at bus stops, entrances to parks and along streets. I will fight for funding for more dog poo bins to be located at all parks. I would encourage the development of a Pride in our Local Shops area initiative to reduce rubbish around shop units which is an ongoing issue. I will be a strong advocate for bringing waste services back under the control of the Dublin City Council. I will support and push for funding to support resident associations, tidy town committees and business organisations that work to improve local areas. To reduce illegal dumping, I would advocate for a quarterly local waste collection where residents can leave large rubbish items out for general collection.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

The amount of vacant houses I have passed in my local area is shocking when we consider the current housing crisis. I would advocate for the government to increase the power and level of resources to the City Council's Active Land Management Unit so that they can take action on properties on the vacant and derelict sites register. If bus connects can use compulsory purchase orders on local residents to build infrastructure, then the government must support the City Council to enforce Compulsory Purchase orders on vacant and derelict houses and sites. I would advocate for legislation at the national level to empower City Councils to force property owners to maintain sites so that they do not become an eyesore for the local community. 

What needs to be done to make the city feel safer?

High visibility of the Gardai in the city is essential; it will require increasing recruitment and securing their retention, which is a government issue but something I will advocate for. From a council perspective, more power needs to be brought to the Joint Policing Committees as they consult with local community organisations and understand the policing requirements at a local level while securing levels of gardai allocated to community policing. 

What needs to be done to improve public transport in the city?

More investment is a starting point; this is a national-level issue but something that I would fight for. Consult with people living in the area and those using the transport to ensure any changes are actual improvements. Increasing levels of safety on public transport by having transport police. Speed up the process for the development of the metrolink. Ensure all stops have shelters, especially considering that bus connects will require higher rates of bus changes to get to destinations. Make public transport universally accessible to all. Develop small local link buses to collect in large estates. These things need to be done, but most are outside the remit of a councillor. However, I believe a councillor's job is to bridge the community and the national government, and I will bring transport issues the community identifies to national attention.

What should be done to make it nicer and safer for people to get around the city on foot and by bike?

Taking to people at the doors, one of the biggest issues that needs to be addressed is the condition of footpaths; cracks and bumps make it difficult for people with mobility issues to move around. The council has insufficient funds to ensure adequate maintenance of footpaths, so I will advocate for increased funding levels to ensure universal mobility for all. Another issue is the increased use of electric bikes and scooters driven on footpaths, yet again the government has not kept up with advances in technology and needs to introduce legislation making it illegal to drive electric vehicles of any kind on footpaths, along with a minimum age for driving electric vehicles.

What would you do to help counter the rise of the far right, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ+ hate, and anti-asylum-seeker arsons?

I would promote inclusion, diversity and equity in all DCC-supported initiatives. I would use DCC communication to encourage inclusion, diversity and equity education. I would support organisations that aim to educate and work with communities to address misinformation that results in misdirected anger. I would promote our libraries as areas where members of the public can access information that is factual and correct. I would support DCC in growing community events celebrating differences and embracing cultures. I would work with communities to ensure they feel consulted, connected and listened to.