Carol Reynolds

Labour Party candidate for South East Inner City

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

 Every person has the right to secure and affordable housing. Housing is the single most frequent issue raised with me. Many of my neighbours are concerned that their children will never be able to afford a home of their own, either to own or to rent, let along in the area they grew up.

The housing crisis has consequences for every area of life: access to childcare and school places, public health, urban sprawl, access to the jobs market, and our mental health.

The approach of the current Government, which views housing as a commodity, has led to thousands of people across the country being denied their human right to housing. We see this in agreements for public land to be privatised, with weak commitments to provide social and affordable housing.

A key example is the Glass Bottle Site in Ringsend. This land was sold by the state to a private developer on the agreement that 15% would be allocated for social and affordable housing on top of Part V commitments to provide 10%. Now the developer is trying to back out of the deal.

As councillor, I want to secure social and affordable housing on the Glass Bottle Site. It takes graft and persistence to support local communities and achieve these aims. And I will be voting and advocating for the provision of more social and affordable housing across Dublin City.

Dublin needs councillors and officials who understand the housing crisis. We need a change of Government, but also, we need to see increased action from Dublin City Council. This means stronger local government and accountability in how decisions are made.

I am proud to be running for a Party that will always do that and our record on housing is evidence of this commitment

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

Whether young or old, living alone, with family or in a house share with friends, we all want to know that the place we call home is safe and warm, and that we live in a healthy secure environment. For too many this is not a reality.

Mould and damp and other maintenance issues are widespread across Dublin. Dublin City Council and the Residential Tenancies Board have been too weak in enforcing basic standards. They have been too eager to blame individual tenants for mould, rather than addressing the causes of damp or holding landlords to account.

Frustratingly there are considerable delays in promised works, which unfairly affects council tenants dealing with issues like subsidence and mould. While I recognise that many housing complexes in Dublin are up for redevelopment, these processes take years and tenants deserve to live without mould and damp in the meantime. The council and approved housing bodies need to hurry up and carry out necessary renovation and refurbishments, and minimise disruption to tenants.

I will work with DCC to ensure that interim repairs are undertaken so that tenants are not subject to damp, dangerous conditions.In terms of social housing.

Furthermore, it is crucial that we enforce standards for privately rented homes. Many tenants are reluctant to complain to the RTB due to the fear of eviction. Despite over 5,000 inspections by Dublin City Council in 2023, enforcement remains weak, with only two prohibition notices issued.

Fundamentally, at a national level we need to see improved security of tenure for tenants which would empower tenants to complain to landlords about poor living conditions. We can already begin to set the standard in Dublin abd I will campaign for this.

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

I want us all to be able to be proud of the city we live in. This means that we take care of our streets, and keep them clean and well presented.

Unfortunately, we have a massive issue with rubbish on the streets in inner city Dublin. While council staff work diligently to clean up, the problem persists and appears to be worsening, despite the efforts of tidy towns organizations and clean-up groups.

Exploring alternative methods of commercial waste collection, such as shared large containers for businesses, could alleviate the reliance on plastic bags, which are vulnerable to wildlife interference. Involving business owners in finding workable solutions is essential, as they also stand to benefit from cleaner surroundings.

You can’t talk about litter without talking about privatised waste collection, which increases illegal dumping. Waste management in Dublin is chaotic and would be much better served by a single public service. Therefore, I will be campaigning to see DCC take control of the bin service again, and to overcome whatever barriers and legal challenges we face from private operators.

On dog poo and littering, there is something of a vicious cycle. Because Dublin is already so dirty and waste is so poorly managed by the city, people are more likely to drop litter or let their dogs’ poo. We all have a responsibility to manage waste properly and to create a city that people do not want to make dirty. But we also need greater enforcement of regulations on dog fouling and littering by DCC. Addressing littering and dog poo requires improved enforcement and the appointment of additional roles like park wardens and the use of CCTV footage to identify repeat offenders and prosecute accordingly for offenses like fly tipping and dumping.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

I want a city that looks and feels welcoming, safe and clean, and where people have access to good homes. Yet there are thousands of vacant and derelict homes across the city. Considering the scale of the housing crisis this is absolutely unacceptable.

Vacant and derelict properties not only deprive communities of much-needed housing, but also contribute to antisocial behaviour and makes our streets less safe. Once a building becomes derelict it is far costlier and more challenging to bring it back to use. Therefore, we need to be proactive about tackling dereliction. Over the last year, Labour have led the campaign to highlight the scourge of vacancy in our communities.

Despite no longer facing staffing shortages in vacancy officers, Dublin City Council's efforts are clearly inadequate. National measures such as increasing vacant homes taxes and bolstering local authority resources are necessary, but there's also room for action at the council level.

Dublin City Council possesses compulsory purchase powers, which should be used to combat vacancy and expand public housing and green spaces. Currently, fewer than 200 units are on DCC’s vacant and derelict sites registers, a figure divorced from reality.

There must be a concerted effort by councillors to oppose the Department of Housing's funding cuts for converting vacant and derelict sites. Despite rising construction costs, the department has slashed funding for these projects, reducing support from 65% to just 20%. This reduction jeopardizes efforts to refurbish sites amid a worsening housing crisis.

City councillors must provide local leadership by pushing for action. The Labour Party has been using local knowledge to identify and register empty sites, empowering Dubliners to effect change. I was delighted to see that the vacant office at Fitzwilliam Quay has been acquired by DCC for the provision of social and affordable housing. These are the sorts of measures that we need to see to tackle vacancy and I will be working with DCC to ensure more projects on vacant sites are commenced.

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

To feel safe where you live is a most fundamental right. I receive numerous queries about crime in my area, ranging from bicycle thefts to violence and intimidation in public spaces. Without doubt the most significant issue is certainly policing. While nobody wants to see Dublin be overpoliced, the presence of community Gardaí can significantly improve safety.

The Joint Policing Committee (JPC), run by Dublin City Council, provides a crucial platform for public representatives to discuss issues of concern with Garda representatives.

Unfortunately, there have been moves by the Department of Justice to replace JPC meetings with a broader 'community safety partnership' system involving just seven councillors. This change cannot proceed, as it would diminish Garda accountability to democratically elected councillors who represent their constituents' interests.

Many factors contribute to safety in the city. Passive surveillance by residents and shops plays a vital role in keeping areas safe. For this reason, it is really important that we prevent dereliction and make our streets welcoming to people from all walks of life. With more shops and housing, there will be more people moving around the inner city at all times of day & night, which keeps the city safer for all.

As councillor, I will engage actively in this forum to ensure coordination in the prevention of crime. A well-managed city is a safer city.

Labour councillors on Dublin City Council submitted a motion focusing on violence against women. The motion incorporated safety needs into public realm enhancements, budgetary decisions, and educational programs. Additionally, it calls for promoting access to support services for victims of gender-based violence and providing sensitivity training to council staff. As councillor, I will continue this vital work for women’s safety in Dublin.

While public safety remains a concern, it's crucial to acknowledge that some of the worst violence occurs within homes. Dublin City Council plays a vital role in providing refuge spaces for those fleeing domestic violence. These measures are essential for protecting people, and I will continue to advocate for their implementation, especially now that Labour’s motion has been passed.

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

We need to keep our city moving, and proper public transport and cycling infrastructure are vital to this. As a councillor, I would ensure that initiatives to enhance public transport infrastructure are at the centre of Dublin City's Development Plan.

But the process of planning new public transport infrastructure can often be drawn-out, with local opposition to key infrastructure causing major delays. Dublin City Council must balance the need to listen to communities with the need to keep the city moving for the good of everyone living here. By adding resources that benefit everyone, including new transport options, we can alleviate some of the concerns about new developments.

I am supportive of plans to improve bus access to the city centre and increase pedestrianisation, allowing Dubliners to move more easily through the city by bus, foot and wheel. Furthermore, I am supportive of the Metrolink project and for the extension of the red line Luas to Poolbeg. All of these initiatives will make Dublin a more accessible city for both residents and workers. As councillor, I would ensure that DCC takes actions to support these large infrastructure projects, which are important for improving public transport in the city.

We also need to make it more comfortable for everyone to use public transport. A lack of covered bus shelters with seating is preventing many older and disabled passengers from using bus, DART and Luas services. Operators have a responsibility to local communities to ensure proper maintenance of transport shelters and accessibility for disabled individuals. The council should also play a role in 'disability-proofing' new bus stops and cycle lanes as part of planning requirements to ensure safety for all users.

Overall, improving public transport in Dublin requires honesty and engagement from public representatives. Engaging with communities early in the process and being transparent about proposed projects are key to project completion. As a councillor, I will prioritize keeping residents informed and addressing their concerns about transport seriously.

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

As a supporter of cycling and pedestrian safety, I advocate for the creation of more protected cycle paths, especially near schools, and the maintenance of existing lanes to prevent accidents. Proper upkeep of paths is crucial for pedestrians too, as potholes and obstacles pose risks, particularly for vulnerable groups like the visually impaired, wheelchair users, and parents with strollers. We also need to enhance pedestrian amenities by providing more public seating areas in Dublin, ensuring equitable access for all residents.

Expanding initiatives like the Dublin Bikes scheme, pioneered by former Lord Mayor Andrew Montague of the Labour Party, is essential, and should include underserved areas like Ringsend and Irishtown.

We need to be honest that unsafe driver behaviour has become a problem and we need to enforce traffic laws reduce road fatalities, alongside investing in new infrastructure and pedestrian-friendly projects. I would make it my priority to bring traffic calming measures to Council, to ensure our streets are safe for all users.

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

In Ireland, most of us believe that no matter what we look like, where we’re from, or who we love, we all deserve to feel like we belong. Sadly, there are some who want to sow divisions to advance their own narrow interests.

It is very worrying to see the emergence of the far-right in Irish politics. I am especially concerned to see them exploiting issues such as lack of housing and services as a means to stir up hate against marginalised groups.

I am particularly horrified at the recent attacks on people seeking asylum, and the buildings earmarked to accommodate them. The horrific riots on 23rd November, will never be forgotten. The scale of the clean-up the following morning by Dublin City Council workers was so impressive, but it shouldn’t have been necessary.

Alongside my Labour Party colleagues, I am firmly committed to equality for everyone, regardless of their background. By coming together in this election, we can reject division, and learn from each other as our city changes and evolves. As councillor, I will work to ensure Dublin is a place of inclusion and safety for people of all backgrounds, and I will not tolerate far right co-option of important issues such as housing and crime. Diversity is something that should be celebrated, and it is one of our greatest strengths.