Clara McCormack

People Before Profit-Solidarity candidate for Donaghmede

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

The first issue is that a lot of social housing and public land has been sold to private developers and vulture funds - we need to ban the sale of public property and land to vulture/cuckoo funds and private developers.

The state must establish its own construction company - one whose main focus is to build good-quality, affordable public housing, rather than expensive for-profit housing. Private developers have wrought havoc on the Irish housing system for too long, as seen with the Mica scandal in the north-west of the island, and the new Children’s Hospital.

The councils need to tackle housing vacancy and dereliction. There are 166,000 empty houses in Ireland - 10 for every homeless person. Houses that have been vacant for years should be purchased by the council and made available for people on the housing list. A state-owned construction company would allow these homes to be renovated by the councils at an affordable price.

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

I would support a mass retrofitting campaign across all existing social housing, to make homes more energy-efficient - which saves both the environment and our money on energy bills.

Tenants’ rights need to be protected - illegal evictions must end and the facilitation of illegal evictions by Gardaí must be investigated. Landlords should not be able to hire private security firms to carry out evictions. Unions such as Community Action Tenants’ Union (CATU) should be recognised by the councils for the important work they do.

I would support funding far more maintenance crews in DCC. The outsourcing of maintenance work to private firms has stretched waiting times for urgent repair work to years. DCC should directly train and employ people to carry out this essential work.

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

Major investment into public waste management is needed - public bins are not being maintained and are even being removed by DCC.

I would support a mass information campaign by DCC around responsible dog ownership and waste management, and the environmental and social issues around these.

We cannot rely on people’s goodwill alone to tackle dumping and dog waste - we need more investment into public waste management, including hiring litter wardens and publicly-owned waste management facilities.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

I would support establishing a state construction company to repair and retrofit derelict, publicly-owned property, to provide suitable homes and community centres for the public.

DCC needs to conduct audits of vacant and derelict homes in Dublin, and impose a tax and properties that have been vacant for a prolonged period of time. I have come across houses in Donaghmede LEA which have been derelict for over a decade according to neighbours, yet do not appear on the council’s Derelict Properties Register.

Houses that have been derelict for years should be purchased and renovated by the council and made available for social housing. We are in the most severe housing and homelessness crisis in the history of the state - it is unacceptable that so many people and families are homeless while these houses remain vacant and falling into disrepair.

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

We need more late-night and 24-hour public transport routes. As a woman who has worked in hospitality for several years, I know how difficult and scary it can be to get home in Dublin late at night. More than once I have found myself stranded in town without any buses or taxis around. Public transport workers should be offered higher pay rates for late-night work.

Given the rise in racist, homophobic, and misogynistic attacks in Dublin in recent years, I would support more campaigns around inclusion and integration. Community centres are vital spaces for social clubs and activities that are genuinely accessible and can help communities grow and integrate - DCC should open more community centres and fund activities in them. The city would feel safer if we were able to create genuine communities in our areas - but competition for space from multinational companies and extortionate rents and insurance rates has destroyed this.

Petty crime has been linked to poverty, and the most effective way to genuinely reduce it is to tackle poverty and economic inequality. Need more investment into public services - such as healthcare, education, and housing - that have been run into the ground by decades of neoliberal policies under Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fáil, and the Green Party.

Some parties argue for higher police presence to make us feel “safe” but those of us from working-class or marginalised communities know that Gardaí often create more problems than they solve. They cannot prevent crime, only respond to it. We need a long-term response that tackles the root causes of crime in our society, rather than punishing people who have been dealt a hard lot in life. More funding for public services such as transport, housing, mental health services, community spaces, would help alleviate some of the issues that often lead to crime.

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

I support the introduction of free, frequent, and green public transport in Dublin.

Major investment needed into DART services - many stations left without attending staff and lifts always broken, as highlighted by groups for disability rights such as Access For All, and residents’ associations such as Myrtle Coast Residents’ Association near Clongriffin station.

Jobs in public transport need to be protected and made more accessible, especially to young people. Pay cuts, diminishing rights, and precarious working conditions have contributed to many Dublin Bus drivers quitting, for example. The trade union movement has a role to play here, but the attempts to privatise bus routes need to be opposed by all of us.

We need more 24hr public transport routes in the city. Many people working in care, construction, or service industries are left without public transport options because of their working hours.

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

Protected, separate cycle lanes and footpaths should continue to be built around the city.

Public transport should be free, to encourage its use and discourage car use. This would reduce car traffic and make our city safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

People with disabilities are often forgotten when it comes to travelling around the city. Parked cars blocking footpaths need to be tackled by the council, and more parking spaces for disabled and elderly people should be made available. I would support more consultation between DCC and people with disabilities on how to improve accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists in the city.

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 in anti-immigrant, homophobic, transphobic and far-right hatred in Ireland is being driven by a small group of individuals and organisations, who are preying on ordinary people’s real anger at the government - but misdirecting that anger towards marginalised groups.

We need to seriously tackle the public services crises in this country - housing, healthcare, education, and energy provision are all at breaking point due to the privatisation, outsourcing and profiteering that has been championed by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens over the past 20 years. We need to boot these parties out of government and create a left-wing government that will deliver public amenities for all communities, especially those in working-class areas that have been left behind for so long.

Far-right political parties have been peddling racist and homophobic lies and conspiracy theories, particularly around refugees and queer people. These lies should be rejected and countered, and misinformation online should be challenged.

Community centres and community activities should be expanded and funded by DCC to encourage integration and reduce segregation in our communities.

Refugees and people fleeing war and persecution must be protected by the state - as is Ireland’s legal obligation under the Geneva Conventions. Direct Provision is an abhorrent, cruel system which must be abolished and replaced with proper housing and social integration supports.

As a rep with People Before Profit I have been actively engaging with local communities to counter far-right misinformation, build solidarity between people of all backgrounds, and fight for proper public housing and services. We can build an Ireland for all, by ending the profiteering of landlords, millionaires and FF/FG politicians.