David Healy

Green Party candidate for Howth-Malahide

How would you help get more housing built in Fingal?

We should be providing public housing on a cost-rental basis at large scale. This will both directly provide secure and affordable housing as well as having a moderating influence on private rents. As a result of Green Party engagement, this approach has been put in place in the Council-owned land at Ballymastone in Donabate. 

We have changed the zoning of a number of areas in Fingal from employment-only to mixed-use, such as at Kilbarrack Industrial Estate. These areas will have the capacity to provide substantial housing sited on good public transport links, in mixed use developments, including also employment uses. We need more zoning changes like this, so people can get accommodation in their own areas and with good public transport, rather than being pushed out to neighbouring counties and having to drive everywhere.

We also have a quality challenge with much of our existing housing. Fingal has been carrying out major retrofits to our Council housing stock, bringing them up to efficient and healthy thermal standards, for example at Dublin St. Baldoyle and Strandmill estate, Portmarnock. It is particularly positive to see the cooperation which is enabling private houses to also be included in the programme while the contractor is on the same street. Having built capacity over the last few years, the Council is now capable of a greatly expanded retrofit programme, and is seeking increased capital funding to carry it out.

What would you do to help make sure adequate amenities and services would be added along with any new housing built?

This is ultimately a question of operating the planning system effectively from the start to the finish of the process. Most of the time, the requirements for amenities and services are correctly recognised and the need to provide them at the same time of the housing is accepted. However, it usually doesn’t work in practice. Often the houses come first and the amenities later.

Take Stapolin as an example. Our County Development Plan has the right policies as regards phasing of amenities. In the Stapolin Local Area Plan, detailed phasing obligations were set out. It was very positive in that the new Clongriffin train station was in one of the first planning permissions. However, at that point things started to go wrong. First the economic crash stopped all development. The result was that the people of Baldoyle have been left with a hostile “temporary” access to Clongriffin and the train station for 13 years. The 2017 planning permission for the restarted development of the area, in line with the Local Area Plan, said the area beside the station had to be developed first. The developer decided to start at the furthest part of the site from the station. I’m complaining to Fingal County Council about this breach of planning permission, but the Council’s planning enforcement leaves a lot to be desired.

What are your views are on Dublin Airport’s current operations and its proposed expansion?

Dublin Airport’s current operations are in breach of planning conditions imposed to protect the public from noise, particularly night-time noise which disrupts sleep and damages public health. They are not following the flight paths that were outlined in the 2007 planning application for the north runway and they are exceeding the night time limit and exceeding the total passenger number limit. Infringements of planning regulations by any industry are not acceptable. 

Given the climate challenge, we need to both reduce the climate impact of each flight and passenger and manage aviation demand away from a business-as-usual trajectory. In these circumstances and with the availability of airport capacity elsewhere in Ireland there should be no expansion of Dublin Airport. Any expansion would become a “stranded asset” as EU and global policies to reduce aviation emissions take effect.

What needs to be done to improve public transport in Fingal?

We need to build on the major improvements which we have seen in recent years, with integrated ticketing, reduced fares and Leap Cards. We need to accelerate the bus priority measures contained in Bus Connects, electrify the railways further out of the city to expand the Dart, build extra Luas lines and the Metrolink. We need to ensure the changes are improvements of services for all parts of the city, making trips easier and not introducing unnecessary interchanges as Irish Rail have floated for Howth Junction.

We need to improve the infrastructure for interchange between modes, including providing bus shelters as standard, such as at Howth station where people transferring from rail to the 6 bus have to wait in the weather. We need to ensure that all accesses to public transport are clean, safe and reliable, especially lift accesses such as that at Clongriffin. Timetabling and stopping patterns need to be designed for interchange; for example, Howth Junction and Killester should be interchange points between rail and the orbital N6 and N4 buses. A pulse timetabling approach should be used for lower frequency routes.

Camera enforcement of bus lanes is urgently needed.

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

30km/h should be the default speed for residential roads and streets, with camera-based enforcement and/or automatic speed limiters in vehicles for all speed limits.

I will push for infrastructural improvements to tackle speeding and ensure that roads are designed to prioritise road safety, particularly that of children and other vulnerable road users.

We also need zebra crossings at minor junctions, to remind people of pedestrian priority. Now that Eamon Ryan has ensure such crossings can be provided without flashing beacons, they are much more affordable and should be used widely. That, combined with improved and widened footpaths would really improve things for pedestrians - particularly those who need extra time or space. Benches are also key to ensure that people who are walking can get a rest.

Many of the lights in our junctions at busy periods heavily prioritise cars - at the expense of people walking. You will see hundreds of pedestrians forced to wait for car traffic to pass, which inexplicably enjoys more time. I want junction timing that prioritises disabled people, pedestrians, bikes, public transport - in that order.

What should be done to make the roads safer for all road users?

We have been learning from successful experience in other countries, especially the Netherlands and have provided some important infrastructure. However, we still have a distance to go in designing streets, roads and greenways for active travel. We need to continue to learn from good practice elsewhere.

Continuous footpaths at side roads and zebra crossings should be standard.

All roads without footpaths must be addressed as a matter of urgency. Rapidly implementable designs such as those used in the Netherlands should be considered, for example at Stockhole Lane. In other locations, short local greenway links are an urgent priority, for example between Kinsealy and Portmarnock.  

Quality segregated cycling routes should be the norm across the city, including the provision of important links such as from Malahide to Donabate.

How would you help create more natural green spaces and promote biodiversity in Fingal?

Fingal has an excellent Biodiversity Plan, reflecting a commitment to protect and restore biodiversity. This includes immediate practical actions in our Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas (such as putting ropes along paths on Ireland’s Eye to guide people away from ground-nesting birds) and longer-term objectives such as restoring oyster-beds and other marine habitats.

The Dublin Bay Biosphere Reserve covers the south-east of Fingal including Howth, Baldoyle Estuary and Portmarnock peninsula, including the rivers which flow to these coastal waters. Howth has a further designation as a Special Amenity Area, which is a national-level planning protection and involves a community-based approach to managing the area.

I and my Green colleagues have a long track record of protecting our high amenity land and green belts, as well as the Howth SAAO from rezoning proposals.

How would you help get more parks and sports facilities built in Fingal?

To ensure sufficient facilities are provided for to a growing population it needs to be built into our planning system. Sites and locations must be identified prior to any building being undertaken. This has been improved upon in the last development plan, but we have a lot to catch up on.

All towns should have easy access to open spaces where people and children can be in nature. Access to nature is essential for both physical and mental health. We are lucky in Fingal to have so many beautiful parks and beaches, but we need to ensure all our citizens have better access to them.