Conor Reddy

People Before Profit-Solidarity candidate for Ballymun-Finglas

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

There are two major obstacles to increasing the supply of social and affordable housing that the Council could address; Land/property hoarding and the absence of a council/state construction capacity.

To tackle land/property hoarding, DCC should proactively monitor and document vacant and derelict sites and buildings. The Vacant Site Levy should be enforced more proactively and new, escalating rates should be introduced for longer term vacancies. After a specified period, DCC should use compulsory purchase powers to acquire vacant sites/buildings.

To increase the supply of local authority housing, DCC and councillors should lobby government for funds to build up construction capacity in the council and to support the establishment of a state-owned construction company to work with local authorities and the LDA to deliver new homes. In the interim, DCC should cease the sale of public land to private developers and instead contract to build public housing on public land according to plans developed by the council, in-house to meet the needs of Dubliners.

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

For social tenants across the City, there are huge issues with maintenance and repairs. These problems are a direct result of under-resourcing of council Housing Maintenance departments and outsourcing of maintenance to private contractors. In Ballymun-Finglas, we have run a petition campaign calling on Dublin City Council to hire more maintenance workers on a permanent contracted basis. DCC should look at opening up new trade apprenticeships to bolster this effort. This would create sustainable, well-paid employment and improve the capacity of the council to address maintenance requests.

Having a larger number of skilled maintenance workers would have the added benefit of speeding up turnover of “voids”, vacant properties owned by the council and in time, these maintenance workers could also begin work on retrofitting of council-owned homes to make them more energy efficient. If elected, I will pursue direct hiring of maintenance staff by bringing motions to the council and by pursuing the issue at relevant committees with People Before Profit Colleagues.

For Private tenants, the issues are more complex and require legislative changes at the national level – to introduce more stringent rent controls, a ban on “no-fault” evictions and harsher penalties for unscrupulous landlords. At the local level, I would push to expand DCC’s capacity to inspect buildings to ensure against overcrowding and breaches of other minimal standards for tenancies. I would push for restrictions on the use of AirBnB and other short-term letting platforms in the City and I would use my platform as a councillor to support tenants unions like CATU, which I am a member of myself, as a private renter.

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

Revive the PBP motion to bring domestic waste services back into council control. In addition to providing more reliable and affordable bin collection to Dubliners, free recycling centres and services should be expanded, more “amnesty days” and bulky goods collections should be organised and maintenance of the public realm should be taken back in-house, with no more reliance on outsourcing to private contractors.

At street level, public bins should be re-instated and new bins, including recycling bins should be introduced where they did not exist before. It is scandalous that the Council reduced the number of bins across Dublin City.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

I will be calling for a comprehensive audit to be carried out on vacant and derelict properties across Dublin City. It is a disgrace that there are so many empty homes when so many are in need of housing. The audit I propose follows from campaigning I have led in Ballymun-Finglas, highlighting derelict homes and vacant council-owned homes or “voids”.

A punitive tax should be applied to vacant privately-owned houses and sites, with the rate escalating with duration of vacancy, to encourage the owners to bring the property back into use or to sell. After a specified period, or where an owner can not be found, DCC should use its power to compulsory purchase and use these acquisitions for housing.

DCC should hire more maintenance workers to bring their properties back into use more quickly – this should happen on a strict timeline.

As a councillor I would also examine the possibility of retrofitting commercial and non-residential buildings for housing, as has been done by DCC in the Dublin Bay South Area recently. Capacity for these retrofits should be increased so that over-shop space, old churches and other buildings can be repurposed for the good of all Dubliners.

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

• Increase street lighting in residential areas and parks. • Invest in and support “assertive” outreach work with young people, so that youth workers reach young people not currently using or engaged with traditional youth services. • Increase council funding for traditional youth services to bring funding back to pre-austerity levels and expand from there. • Increase council investment into clubs and sports. Subsidise gym membership for young people, attach more training opportunities to existing sport and leisure facilities to allow young people to earn money in the growing fitness industry and elsewhere. • Support the construction of a “scrambler” and dirt-bike track for the north suburbs, following the model of the Clondalkin Equine Centre. The space should have youth workers attached to promote responsible bike use and could provide education and training to young people in bike/auto mechanics, engineering and motorsport. • Introduce adult drop-in social centres that offer a range of activities and facilities including showers. Integrate with homeless services, addiction support workers and other services. • Support the establishment of more supervised drug consumption facilities practicing harm reduction and integrating addiction support services. This would get drug use of city streets and into a safe environment where supports would be available to drug users.

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

Public transport should be made free and frequent in Dublin City, with increased capacity and investment by the state. DCC can advocate for this.

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

Work should continue on pedestrianisation of parts of Dublin City Centre but alongside this, alternatives to private car travel must be made more reliable. This will require state investment.

Green spaces and biodiversity promotion in our city should be a major focus for the council’s public domain strategy. More green spaces in the grey city and suburbs. More initiatives to involve community in the creation of new biodiverse spaces. An end to environmentally destructive practices like the use of pesticides and herbicides.

I welcome the proposed redevelopment of Finglas Village and the prioritisation of pedestrians and cyclists in urban villages like Finglas.

Support the expansion of protected cycle lanes.

Support DCC cycle safety campaigns in schools across Dublin 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?

As a People Before Profit rep and committed anti-racist I have played an active role in Ballymun for All, Finglas for All and Dublin NW Communities against racism. I would continue my work with these grassroots alliances but I would also advocate for the council to play a more active role in challenging misinformation and lies spread by far-right agitators.

The growth of hate movements is in part attributable to state and council failure – on housing, the provision of essential services and to the deepening of inequality. This can not be papered-over or ignored. In anti-racist and anti-fascist work it is critically important to have this clarity. There can be no ambiguity, or united front with government parties who have created the conditions for this problem to grow.

More locally, I have seen first hand the power of local community in countering the far-right – in Ballymun, youth workers and community organisations played a pivotal role in countering misinformation and pulling people away from those attempting to sow division in our community. I have also seen the power of positive community building work centring inclusion – the Ballymun Running Club, the Ballymun Tidy Towns group involving local asylum seekers and the efforts of local schools to foster inclusion and diversity. I believe the council could do a lot more to promote inclusion through funding cultural events and initiatives in the community.

DCC should also provide stronger support for its staff members facing abuse by the far-right, be it in public libraries, civic offices or elsewhere.