Bernard Mulvany

People Before Profit-Solidarity candidate for Clontarf

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

The key to building more affordable and social housing has to be for the state to use public lands to build these homes. We need to set up a state construction company that is not for profit to build the homes we need on state lands. 

This will take time to set up but we have wasted so much time at this stage, so to get the ball rolling in the meantime we have to work in partnership with established home builders using state lands under contract to the state with development levies and site costs wavered. 

The state should bulk buy the raw materials with which to build these homes once again reducing the costs that would be incurred as the usual added profit margins would be removed. After a robust tendering process and until such a time as the state can build homes itself, we will have to work in partnership with construction firms who have a proven track record in building social and affordable housing on a mass scale. 

It would also be a condition that the state would retain ownership of a percentage of these homes, never to be sold off, so that future generations would have access to social housing and at some stage, it would return monies to the local authority in the form of affordable rent.

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

To improve conditions in existing housing DCC needs to make available funds that can be used to retrofit properties in the rental market. These funds would be made available under the proviso that tenants have secure tenure. 

They must increase their rental contracts beyond the current twelve-month/yearly contracts that have become the standard norm. This offers a greater incentive to the landlords in the private sector to keep tenants in situ and also it offers the option to bring their property up to the highest energy rating, adding to the value of the property while also lowering the cost to the tenant when it comes to keeping the home warm in the colder months. 

For properties owned by Dublin City Council solar panels should be fitted to all roofs. This lowers the costs to the tenant for heating water and subsidised panels paid for over time by the owners of private dwellings would add to the value of their property but also reduce the costs to the tenants. This would add to the circular economy but also help in our fight to reach our climate targets and help reduce emissions.

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

We need to see more bins across the city coupled with specific dog poo bins that also offer poo bags free of charge. This will encourage people to pick up after their pets. A campaign around the negative effects that dog poo has on people and why it’s important to clean up after your pet fouls would also be important. 

As the father of a young person who is a full-time wheelchair user, there is nothing more upsetting than having your hands and wheels covered in dog poo and makes for a very upsetting experience for all the family. 

As for rubbish, we need to take back control of our refuse collection. Since garbage collection was privatised more and more people are unable to cover the ever-increasing costs so they resort to illegal dumping. People pay enough in taxation and rates that we should be able to bring the rubbish collection back into the public domain and as additional costs are already being incurred by the council due to fly-tipping it makes sense to take back full control and reduce the consistent issues around illegal dumping. 

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

Vacancy and dereliction exist through the fact the owners for whatever reason are either unwilling or unable to maintain the property. Therefore the property should be made available to the council to repurpose so it can be brought back into use which will help tackle the ongoing housing catastrophe. 

Ongoing attempts at implementing dereliction charges and vacancy charges have had little effect on the issue. We need to offer a fair price for the dwellings, they can then be brought back into use. The council would undertake the appropriate works that would see the home be made safe and habitable. These homes would then be owned and maintained by DCC never to be sold off which would in turn help build up stock and protect the long-term housing needs of the people.

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

It is proven that if you increase footfall and activity in our urban surroundings, antisocial behaviour falls dramatically. You will never completely remove antisocial behaviour but if you offer people alternatives they can at least have options not to engage in it. Such things as investing in local clubs and sports facilities. 

In our parks, we can install better lighting, and add community hubs and areas that people can enjoy socialising together in. Offer good seating and areas where communities can hold events days while also inviting people to open small food and drinks outlets, outlets that could be run by local volunteers and organisations. This would give people a stake in their community, something to feel proud of. 

This along with investing in local youth clubs and halls offering sporting activities and other pastimes would have a positive impact on society and in turn, make our communities safer and more friendly for our people. We need to offer people positive solutions, not to vilify them due to the fact they have little involvement in their community. This is one of the best ways to create a safer, friendlier city.

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

Public transport is a major issue in our city. We have ongoing issues around access in our public train stations with lifts failing and unmanned stations. Even though it has improved it is still nowhere near where we need it to be and we need to see more staff in our stations to offer safety and security to commuters. 

Busconnects still has a way to go. People need to see increased capacity, as a lot of the time commuters are finding that buses are overcrowded and during peak morning times buses fly by full with people having to wait for extended periods before they can catch the next one. 24-hour bus corridors are welcome and we need to roll out more routes that can accommodate them, especially if we want people to leave their cars at home. 

Another huge issue is disability access and the fact only one wheelchair user can travel on a Dublin bus at any one time. Some buses can accommodate two wheelchairs and we need to put pressure on TFI to see that these are the busses purchased for our Dublin bus fleet. It will offer equality of independence for everyone in our community. 

Blue badge parking has been badly repositioned in our city. Bays have been relocated on roads with steep gradients, roads with no dropped kerbs and access to footpaths. We see blue badge parking with terrible bay positioning. Wheelchair users alighting into traffic and having to cross bike lanes to reach the safety of the footpaths. We see them placed beside poles and other physical barriers that need to be repositioned. We need to involve the disability community more when making these design changes as no one can advise us better than those with lived experience.

While we wait to move to more independent mobility we have to be mindful that some will always need personal transportation or their independence. Proper consultation and engagement and then acting on the findings from that process will help create a better public transport system for everyone.

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

Bike lanes need to be made safer as some new lanes are already becoming clogged with foliage and debris. These lanes need to be raised to not inadvertently become drains for storm water as is the case with some of our new lanes most notably on Griffith Avenue. 

Properly segregated lanes with visual markings to make it very clear as to their purpose need to be a main priority around new infrastructure. For pedestrians, we need to see more streets pedestrianised. Creating safe zones for people to enjoy the city independently. These streets must be step-free and inclusive so everyone no matter what their ability or mobility can enjoy them.

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

The rise of the right-wing, anti-immigrant narrative is a result of the failed policies of successive governments over the past 25 years. Communities feel left behind and abandoned.

The housing crisis is having a massive negative impact on our society. People are feeling hopeless with no chance of living independently outside the family home and are very angry at this prospect.

Individuals who would never have had any concern for our communities are now stoking the flames of frustration and hopelessness and targeting people who need us to help them the most. This is creating huge tension and fear. 

It all comes back to housing and offering hope. We need to offer hope to people, hope they can live independently of the family home. We live in a multicultural society, one that is reliant on migrants to keep its hospitals going, public busses driving and supermarkets open.

We have to resist the narrative being pushed from a place of hatred and to do what we Irish have always done best, offer the hand of friendship and solidarity and welcome people into our multicultural society just as we have been welcomed the world over.

We should encourage more community days whereby we bring all the community together and show people we have a lot more in common than those who seek to divide us would have us believe.