Ann Graves

Sinn Féin candidate for Swords

How would you help get more housing built in Fingal?

As an elected Councillor I would put pressure on FCC to maximise the use of public land to deliver social and affordable housing. Successive governments have reduced the powers of Councillors and these need to be given back to ensure that those representing the electorate can do so in terms of delivery of housing for people – section 179A legislation further erodes the role of local representation and consultation by interested parties, this needs to be challenged.

We are in the worst housing emergency in the state and every effort needs to be made to provide housing, social, affordable, private. Consultation with communities needs to be increased.

I have a motion tabled for our Council meeting seeking additional funding for the Tenant in Situ process. I will be seeking for this to be streamlined with targeted timelines and real communication. Many families are finding themselves homeless because while their landlord is willing to sell to FCC the process is too long and lack of communication with both parties is causing frustrations.

What would you do to help make sure adequate amenities and services would be added along with any new housing built?

Infrastructure and amenities need to be paramount in decisions made at the planning stage. This is something I argued strongly for during the Fingal Development Plan.

We need to ensure that we are building communities with access to services including shops, childcare facilities, doctors, green and play areas etc and with a decent road network. There are still estates being built in Swords and Malahide and likely other areas that don’t have a footpath for access which is a disgrace. 

Amenities should be delivered on a phased basis, particularly in larger developments where people are moving into homes and currently have a long wait before they become available.

What are your views are on Dublin Airport’s current operations and its proposed expansion?

The DAA is a driver for jobs and economic progress in Fingal, with 17K people working directly and indirectly for the airport. While I acknowledge and support the need for the development of the airport – they are a semi-state body and are subject to compliance with planning and like any other organisation have to adhere to planning conditions that apply to them. 

The DAA has ignored planning conditions concerning caps on passengers, there is currently a case with An Bord Pleanála around nighttime flights and they have changed flight paths where additional houses now fall into the areas needing insulation.

There are a number of cases in the courts where the DAA have taken judicial reviews (JR) because the FCC served enforcement notices and an additional JR being taken by the Friends of the Environment and residents groups because there was a ministerial order removing health and safety measures from the Fingal Development Plan which was a motion I brought forward and was unanimously agreed.

The DAA are not good neighbours, they don’t engage with residents affected by noise and environmental issues. There has to be engagement and communication so the airport can meet the needs, while also ensuring the health and wellbeing of communities are protected.

What needs to be done to improve public transport in Fingal?

In advance of delivery of the metro, which is now going back out to public consultation and likely to incur additional spending and time, we need to put in place a sustainable transport system that is linked up and includes a park-and-ride facility for those estates that don’t have access to public transport.

There are a number of estates in Swords that despite being built 15-20 years ago do not have access to public transport, there are newly developed estates that have delays in providing a bus service.

There are bus services in rural areas that have a kilometre or more between stops. We need to review the public transport system in Fingal looking at linked-up services that provide more accessibility to hospitals, schools, colleges etc that people can travel within the Fingal area and beyond easily. 70% of people commute outside of Fingal to go to work – many of these have no alternative but to drive because of the lack of a sustainable transport system that suits their needs.

As a member of the Transport and Infrastructure Special Policy Committee, I have raised the issue of transport for tourism, many tour companies bypass Swords because there is no coach park for them to bring tourists into the area.  We are missing out on bringing tourism to our main county town.

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

I always champion the need to consult widely with the community and community groups concerning their needs and the issues they face. We have invested a lot in cycling infrastructure which works well in a lot of areas, but others remain unused, with much of the cycling lanes leading nowhere or stopping in an area where there is a need.

Ensuring the footpaths are in good repair is important for those walking, with many areas unsafe, particularly for those with mobility issues.  We also need to ensure that elderly people can get around safely and people pushing buggies have space to navigate

Additional safe school programmes to make it easier for children to walk to school (where they live close enough) and walking buses from parking areas where parents have to drive their children contribute in great part.

What should be done to make the roads safer for all road users?

The by-laws for speed in the county need to be easier to change when speed limits are an issue in particular areas.  At the moment the process is long and drawn out and there are many areas where the speed is dictated by the type of road rather than where it is and its usage.

There should be a lot more involvement by community groups in determining speed limits in their locale where they are aware of accident blackspots or areas where action needs to be taken in relation to the installation of ramps, slowing down of traffic – traffic management, VAS signs etc

How would you help create more natural green spaces and promote biodiversity in Fingal?

All new developments need to include natural green spaces, where developments comprise apartments and high-rise buildings – amenities such as community gardens and access to allotments should also be included.

Promoting diversity should start in schools – with primary and secondary students getting involved in their areas but also through school-based activities.

I am a member of the Swords Woodland Association who do amazing work with schools and community groups including residents associations and tidy towns to promote the advantages of green spaces and biodiversity not only to aid in climate change but also for the mental well-being of people. 

One of the motions I raised, and was passed, in the Fingal Development Plan was the ‘greening’ of public buildings, including (where possible) planting on roofs such as county hall and other publicly run centres. We need to hold on to the green spaces and parks that we currently have and ensure that new developments provide access to open spaces for residents.

How would you help get more parks and sports facilities built in Fingal?

Providing parks and sports facilities in new developments and publicly owned lands that are zoned as green spaces, without removing all the green areas is a must.  The population in the county has grown and sports clubs are struggling to find playing space.  I would support a survey of existing clubs to see what their needs are – based on numbers and growth rate and look at what facilities can be made available.

We also need to be mindful of the fact that not all children are into contact sports and that facilities need to be available for those who need quiet spaces and clubs that meet their needs.  This is why the provision of community centres is so important, that allows facilities for all members of the community that may not be able to enjoy parks or traditional sports facilities.

We also need swimming pools – particularly in Swords which has no direct access to a beach or the sea.  We need to invest in people and their needs – and future-proof these facilities for growth.