Cat O'Driscoll

Social Democrats candidate for Cabra-Glasnevin

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

There’s a great opportunity with the Ballyboggan Local Area Plan to put a focus on affordable and social housing in a well connected new urban village. Unfortunately, the Social Democrats efforts to make a zoning category with affordable housing included is continually blocked. We will keep trying.

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

The housing standards were eroded by successive Housing Ministers which despite our limited power, we work to reverse. I regularly support renters accessing environmental inspections. A warm home is essential and there are great community projects sharing knowledge about retrofitting, solar panels and insulation, this could become a city-wide Council led programme with supports for those who don’t have the funds to pay for works upfront.

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

Firstly, we need more resources in our public domain units. The new street and footpath sweepers are prioritised for the city centre, but the suburbs also need attention. Dog fouling has increased and there is little incentive for dog owners to clean up after their pets. The dogs won’t listen to us so I’m appealing to pet owners to clean up after their furry friends.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

The Dáil needs to give us a vacancy tax with teeth that can be enforced. I also want to see vacant commercial units given to community and creative groups at a reduced rent. This will require landowners to engage and envision a vibrant shopfront.

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

A city needs three things to feel safe: Effective Policing, Quality Urban Design and Pro Social Activity. When completing Safety Audits with the DCC Women’s committee we found that the basics matter; a broken or obstructed light and broken or blocked footpath can make an area feel unsafe. Every woman and people from minorities know the feeling that creeps up your back when you feel unsafe walking alone.

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

Less Ghost Buses would be a start! The NTA runs our public transport and while city councillors are actively engaged the consultation is usually too late in the process. Better night buses into areas currently not covered, reliable services and addressing safety and accessibility concerns all need to be on the NTAs agenda.

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

More safe bike parking that includes facilities for cargo bikes are needed across the city. The Active Travel Office is doing great work for cyclists so I’m going to focus on pedestrians who I feel need more attention. We are all pedestrians at some stage and know the challenges of broken footpaths, blocked footpaths, slow crossings and dog fouling. A back-to-basics approach has been presented by the new Chief Executive, a clean and walkable city is central to this. Slowing cars, low traffic areas and more action to prevent footpath parking are my priorities.

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

As we face another year of a housing crisis, continued cost of living increases and a health system failing the vulnerable it’s no surprise hateful actors are getting attention. To ‘other’ people is a well-known strategy in other countries and we need all leaders to reject this. When I meet people concerned about asylum seekers their concerns are the lack of services not each individual seeking sanctuary. The conversation needs to focus on the core concerns about housing, public services, the struggle many people face keeping their head above water and what can be done to support them. The traditional media and social media platforms also play an important role here.