Anthony Connaghan

Sinn Féin candidate for Ballymun-Finglas

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

The housing crisis has caused misery for countless people across our constituency. Many people feel trapped paying sky-high rents while unable to save up for a deposit to buy their own home. Others are living at home with family, without hope of getting a place of their own where they could have their own independence. Others feel forced to emigrate because they can’t picture a future here in Ireland. Others are in HAP properties in sub standard accommodation with the state paying huge sums to landlords. Currently there are 10,000 people homeless in Dublin with almost 4,000 children.

Everyone should have the right to a secure and affordable home. A change of government is needed to unravel and reverse decades of bad housing policy.  Sinn Féin has proposed a referendum to create a constitutional right to housing for all.

A Sinn Féin government will take a different approach to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. We set out in our 2024 Alternative Budget that a Sinn Féin government will deliver greater investment, increase targets to match demand, cut out red tape which is resulting in delays of up to 2 years before a brick is laid, use new technology to build, speed up planning and introduce changes to tax code to incentivise building of affordable homes.

Sinn Fein would invest in, and develop neighbourhoods, rather than just throwing up apartment blocks. We would ensure there are adequate amenities and local services for everyone. We would increase funding for housing cooperatives, such as O Cualann housing, in the building of affordable housing across the city.

If elected, our team of Sinn Féin councillors will work hard on the council to tackle the housing crisis. We will work to deliver affordable purchase homes through Local Councils and Approved Housing Bodies at prices people can genuinely afford. Local councils and Approved Housing Bodies will deliver the new affordable homes on public land, in Sinn Féin’s plan for government.

Note: Ballymun/Finglas LEA Sinn Féin candidates Anthony Connaghan, Mick Dowling and Leslie Kane submitted all their answers jointly.

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

To improve conditions with social housing we need to reverse the move towards privatisation in Dublin City Council. We need more Council workers focussed not only on maintaining the housing stock, but also in Roads, Parks and Waste Management, rather than private companies focussed on making profits. A major issue we find in our area is mould and dampness, and the Council are spending a fortune paying private companies to tackle it. We believe DCC workers would be cheaper for the tax payer and work to a very high quality.

Ireland’s housing is considered as the second least affordable in the world. The average cost of renting in Ireland is now €1,972 a month. In Dublin, this figure ranges from €1,500–€2,500 per month ranking Ireland as the fourth most expensive country to rent in Europe.

The latest report shows house prices continuing to spiral upwards. In the year to March, prices have jumped by 6.5%. The report also details average house prices in the main cities including Dublin at €437,125 – up 3.2%. The report noted a reduction in the number of homes available to buy in March, down 24% on the same period last year and down 40% on the pre-Covid average listings in 2019.

Sinn Féin would reduce and freeze spiralling rents. We have set a target of halving the council housing waiting list during one term of in office through our council-led building programme on public land, and we will clear the waiting list within a decade. These policies will increase the supply of affordable homes for average workers to purchase or rent at below current market rates.

Another major issue for renters in our area is the lack of security of tenure. Sinn Féin will legislate for tenancies of indefinite duration to provide renters with real security of tenure. These tenancies are the norm in many European countries and there is no reason not to have them here. We have pledged to remove RAS and HAP tenancies from the legal definition of council housing to reflect the temporary nature of these tenancies and the fact that tenants in these schemes do not have long-term security of tenure.

We also need to review the tax treatment of landlords to ensure equity of esteem among all categories of landlords and bring an end to tax breaks that provide no real return to the housing system.   Note: Ballymun/Finglas LEA Sinn Féin candidates Anthony Connaghan, Mick Dowling and Leslie Kane submitted all their answers jointly.

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

Dublin can be a beautiful city to live in, work in or visit. However, a lot more can be done to ensure we have a clean environment, including clean streets. The Sinn Fein councillors on Dublin City Council have been campaigning to have bin services brought back into public ownership. The privatisation of waste collection has not worked. It has led to increased dumping and a general decline in cleanliness across the city. We also need more public waste services such as bins and recycling centres.

I think education is key so working with local schools in our area and showing the younger generation what needs to be done. We are also very lucky in that we have a number of Tidy Towns groups who do brilliant work. They should not be a substitute for the council but supported by the council and working with them they have an important part to play.

As councillors we would also support, and seek to increase, the employing of dog wardens to work in areas where we have a lot of dog poo as some people just allow their dogs to wander around.

Note: Ballymun/Finglas LEA Sinn Féin candidates Anthony Connaghan, Mick Dowling and Leslie Kane submitted all their answers jointly.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

There are far too many vacant and derelict properties in our capital city, including in the Ballymun Finglas consituency. Many of these homes are lying idle for years. Some are being left to rot, becoming derelict and a further blight on our communities. Dublin city council needs to turn vacant properties around a lot quicker, some properties in our area are left vacant for months and this is not acceptable.

Sinn Féin would encourage local authorities to Compulsory Purchase, where practical, and return to use derelict properties alongside increased utilisation of the Buy and Renew scheme. We would also request monthly updates to increase the collection of the Derelict Sites Levy and to speed up the return of vacant social homes.

Note: Ballymun/Finglas LEA Sinn Féin candidates Anthony Connaghan, Mick Dowling and Leslie Kane submitted all their answers jointly.

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

Communities deserve to feel safe and protected. But too many people in our capital city feel unsafe. Sinn Féin have outlined our proposals to invest in the Gardaí, so we can have more Gardaí on our streets protecting communities. We would introduce a public transport policing unit to ensure people can feel safe while using public transport.

We would get to grips with the recruitment and retention crisis in the Gardaí to end the huge numbers resigning. We also need to increase and support the Gardaí in working closer with communities. We need to increase funding for community policing as many communities have been abandoned to drug dealers and organised crime gangs.

Note: Ballymun/Finglas LEA Sinn Féin candidates Anthony Connaghan, Mick Dowling and Leslie Kane submitted all their answers jointly.

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

Road safety and accessible transport are at the heart of ensuring people can live, work, and play safely in their communities. Last year, 2023, saw the highest number of deaths on our roads in almost a decade. In terms of public transport, Dublin ranked worst out of 30 European Cities in 2023. It’s time for change. We recognise that many children cannot safely access school without relying on a lift from parents. This can be a burden to parents, but it also reduces young people’s independence. In government we would increase funding to make getting to school safe. Ensuring more active travel, such as cycling and walking, will be a key way to tackle the climate crisis. To ensure this is realistic, people must feel confident that they can do so safely.

We support auditing all footpaths and putting in place a programme of footpath restoration so everyone can walk and move around their local area confidently. We must also take our elderly into consideration as a lot of the new bus routes want people to swap buses mid route and this might not work for them. While out canvassing this issue has come up a lot. In our area a major issue is that we have no direct bus to the airport to help workers and people using the airport, this is a service which is needed, and if elected we will work to see that it is done. Improving public transport across Dublin is an essential element in making the city a vibrant living community. There are many models of similar cities that have public transport systems that meet the needs of their communities. What we need is the political commitment to do it.

Note: Ballymun/Finglas LEA Sinn Féin candidates Anthony Connaghan, Mick Dowling and Leslie Kane submitted all their answers jointly.

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

This question is linked to many of the previous ones. We need a city that is accessible to all our people, that they feel safe in and which is clean. Many of the cycling initiatives have in the past pitted cyclists against motorists in some sort of competition. That is not how it should be. The city needs to be safe for cyclists and walkers, but also accessible to those who need to use a car. Clearly marked cycle lanes, walkways, and driving lanes are necessary. Facilities such as park and ride, supported by clean, safe, efficient public transport are needed. We need to reimagine the city, and we in Sinn Fein want to work with others to achieve it.

Our parks services do a great job in maintain our parks and other green areas. They need our support and again working with communities develop areas that we can all be proud of.

Note: Ballymun/Finglas LEA Sinn Féin candidates Anthony Connaghan, Mick Dowling and Leslie Kane submitted all their answers jointly.

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

We in Sinn Fein want to have a fair, equal, and diverse society. All sections of our communities must be able to feel safe and included. Arson is a crime in any context and anyone found guilty of arson should face the full rigours of the law.

In terms of the far right, the main problem is misinformation. By feeding misinformation to people who have legitimate concerns they try to divide our communities. We can’t allow that to happen. We need to be honest that our immigration system currently isn’t working, but any anger should not be directed towards those vulnerable people fleeing oppression. It should be directed at the government which has failed to handle the issue properly.

Ireland does not, and should not, have open borders. We have a rules based system where people who need protection can apply for it. It has been badly managed, and under resourced, for years. Decisions in cases are taking too long. If an application is refused, there is little or no follow up. There is a crisis in accommodation, which feeds into the general housing crisis, and decisions are being made without any consultation with communities affected. In such a situation is it any wonder that far right agitators are sowing dissent and hate.

We need to supply the resources so that the rules can be applied fairly, and transparently. The big tech companies also have a role to play in this as blatant lies are allowed to be put up online. It is legitimate to have concerns and to be able to express those concerns, but we need to have an open and honest debate, and put in place the policies and procedures to deliver for those who need our help and for our communities.

Note: Ballymun/Finglas LEA Sinn Féin candidates Anthony Connaghan, Mick Dowling and Leslie Kane submitted all their answers jointly.