Dearbháil Butler

Green Party candidate for Artane-Whitehall

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

As a Dublin City Council candidate deeply committed to addressing the pressing housing needs of our city, I advocate for a pragmatic approach to deliver safe, sustainable homes and communities. While progress is being made with approximately 12,000 homes in the pipeline, urgency is paramount in moving from conception to delivery.

I firmly support the Green Party's policy for public housing on public land, particularly the Cost Rental model (aka the Vienna Model) – this means constructing affordable rental properties on public land, and only charging the cost of construction (removing the profit motive and lowering rents), which ensures affordability and stability for our residents. We must avail of every opportunity to develop social and public housing on publicly owned land.

Additionally, I will work to crackdown on illegal full-time AirBnBs, reclaiming vital housing stock for the people of Dublin. As a party, we have also supported the introduction of a scheme to repurpose space above shops for residential use, a measure that could invigorate commercial districts while easing our housing shortage – we are making this a reality through the existing Croí Connaithe Scheme.

Embracing the Cost Rental model and reinforcing investment in the Housing First programme, will help our most vulnerable receive the support they need. In addition, I will work to allocate additional resources to our council teams tasked with identifying and reclaiming vacant or derelict properties.

I will work towards a housing strategy that meets the needs of all. 

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

Ensuring good-quality standards for housing, especially regarding warmth and energy efficiency, is essential to creating healthy and sustainable communities. As a Dublin City Council candidate, I am committed to elevating these standards across the board. In social housing, this means supporting a significant increase in maintenance budgets, enabling swift resolution of issues like upgrading to double-glazed windows, enhancing insulation, and combating mold problems.

I support initiatives to regenerate and renovate inner-city flat complexes, improving living conditions for residents. By expanding direct labour and apprenticeships within Dublin City Council, we can undertake essential renovations, repairs, and upgrades to social housing. Additionally, the tenant-in-situ scheme, which empowers the council to purchase homes from at-risk private tenants, remains a crucial tool in preventing evictions and ensuring housing security.

I am dedicated to committing resources for the council's private rental inspection team, reinforcing their ability to enforce minimum standards and safeguard tenant rights. By prioritising regular inspections, we can hold landlords accountable and uphold the rights of all renters.

Furthermore, I support for rounded approach to improving housing conditions, recognising the importance of broader civic amenities. Investing in parks and play space not only enhances quality of life but also promotes community cohesion. Particularly in densely populated areas lacking private gardens, these shared green spaces are invaluable for families, as highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

My vision for Dublin encompasses not only the enhancement of individual dwellings but also the creation of thriving, inclusive neighbourhoods where every resident can enjoy a safe, comfortable home life.

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

I have deep roots in our community and work alongside environmental community groups, such as Tidy towns who drive initiatives that reduce our litter, recycle and promote the circular economy. I firmly believe we must involve as many people in the community as possible in order to tackle our waste problem. This can be done through numerous initiatives, for instance Art competitions in schools as part of positive campaigns to make our streets litter free.I have supported family friendly educational programs such as leaf composting so people of all ages in the community learn and are invested in ensuring our shared spaces are kept clean. Recently, I embarked on an innovative pilot project together with the residents of Woodville to introduce 100% recycled plastic planters. These were carefully chosen for their durability and ease of maintenance and had led to a transformation in the landscape.

There are many practical solutions I can carry if returned to the council. My colleague Cllr. Claire Byrne set up the first Dog Waste Committee on Dublin City Council to look at solutions, although progress has been slow though. The focus has been on awareness campaigns, along with trials of audio responses which have been successful. We need to Increase the number of bins in the area and ensure they are placed in suitable locations for litter and dog foul. Additionally, effective signage, enforcement, and fines are essential to curbing this problem. We need to send a signal that its not ok to drop litter and dog waste on the ground. By investing in additional street cleaning resources, we can ensure prompt removal of dog waste, which will aid in creating a cleaner and healthier environment for all.

Furthermore, I would leverage the recently** **enacted CCTV powers to apprehend dumpers in problematic areas. In addition, I would advocate for the increase of the number of litter wardens to strengthen enforcement measures. Ultimately, I would love to see shared and underground bins for the city, but I think it’s important that we continue to act on other solutions in the meantime.  

Building upon the success of last year's increase in street cleaning staff for the city centre, I propose extending this staff expansion to suburban areas, where similar attention is needed. By enhancing street cleaning services citywide, we can maintain cleanliness and enhance the overall quality of life for residents.

The introduction of the Deposit Return Scheme and the ban on single-use plastic products mark significant strides toward achieving our recycling and reuse targets in Dublin. As a candidate for the Dublin City Council, I fully endorse these initiatives and am committed to furthering our efforts in waste management. Waste needs to be tackled at source, in the first instance.

Expanding the operating hours of recycling centres, including opening them on Sundays, is another step toward making recycling more accessible and convenient for residents. By facilitating increased recycling opportunities, we can encourage greater participation in sustainable waste management practices.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

In order to tackle this situation, I would increase the time council spends on logging vacant units, so we are aware of how many there are in an area and their location. By adding eligible buildings to the derelict sites register, we can swiftly move forward with acquisition and revitalisation efforts. These sites have the potential to contribute positively to the community, whether through retail, hospitality, or innovative over-the-shop living arrangements. I would also lobby the council to expedite the release of grants aimed at refurbishing vacant buildings for residential use.

I will advocate for increased resources for city council apprenticeships in housing maintenance. By investing in training and development, we can advance the renovation of council-owned vacant properties, increasing housing availability.

In terms of taxation, I support measures such as the Vacant Homes Tax and the Residential Zoned Land Tax. By incentivising developers to provide housing through these measures, we can stimulate the supply of much-needed accommodation in our city.

I advocate for an all-inclusive approach to community development, emphasising not only housing but also the provision of essential services and opportunities for residents. Projects like community gardens can regenerate underused spaces and create a sense of belonging and connection within our neighbourhoods.

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

Everyone in our area deserves to feel safe. I believe in working with communities, Dublin City Council and the Gardai to deliver real solutions. In the short run, the priority is a greater on-street Garda presence. Councillors don’t have direct powers over policing, but we can highlight areas where more resources are needed. I will use the Joint Policing meetings to keep informed of the crime incidents in the area and raise the concerns brought to me by the residents.

Policing alone can’t solve our safety problems, however. In the medium-term, we need to support a variety of community projects, to divert people away from crime and anti -social behaviour. We have seen how youth projects and environmental projects have turned unused, unsafe spaces into a thriving space for all.

Investing and supporting Garda Youth Diversion Programme will also assist, by providing more space for young people and improving youth work supports. They provide activities, guidance, social outlets and daily ensure that young people’s lives aren’t lost to chaotic behaviour and crime.

We can also make our communities ‘safer by design’. I will continue to work on improving lighting, fix pavements and run safety audits on local streets. I believe by running more events within the community will assist in creating a feeling of safety & inclusivity within the community. Locally I have been involved in setting up inclusive live theatre across our parks, Junior Park runs, family fun days and a variety of outdoor activities. Rethinking spaces and creating more mix use will also help contribute to a liveable neighbourhood. I have championed collaborative efforts to establish new artist spaces in Artane place.

Road safety is also an increasingly important part of the Council’s role in protecting people. I want to ensure that everyone feels safe walking, cycling, relaxing, socialising, exercising, and enjoying themselves. We can do this through lowering speed limits, building more cycle lanes and pedestrianizing areas.

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

Unfortunately, councillors don’t have a lot of power regarding major public transport project, as public transport is essentially the responsibility of the NTA. However, we do have some control over our roads and footpaths and how we use them. This is why I advocate for projects such s bus connects, increasing in walking and cycling infrastructure. These will free up road space and provide options. In some cases, you may be able to avail of public transport instead of a car or there many be days when you or your child can cycle to your destination. I am actively working with my Green party colleagues to increase the number of protected cycle lanes so that safety is not a barrier.

We need to see public transport improvements delivered quickly so that we can benefit from more frequent, reliable services. I would strongly support the council using cameras to detect red light breakers and illegal bus lane users, to make public transport flow more smoothly. This sort of work would also work best with improved provision of disabled parking spaces and commercial loading bays.

Improved accessibility of our buses and trains is also key, so that public transport can be an option for everyone, especially older people, people with disabilities, and those travelling with children in buggies. It is particularly important to have winter maintenance plans in place so that we can prioritise the movement of public transport during extreme weather events rather than focusing on the movement of private cars.

The Greens nationally have made public transport a priority and funded major projects everywhere, while cutting fares by 20% for adults and 60% for young people. Public transport use grew by 25% last year alone, which shows the value of investment.

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

We are already being to see big changes in our area regarding walking and cycling infrastructure due to the increase of funding provided by the Greens in government as well as myself and my fellow councillors pushing projects. I will continue to campaign for segregated cycling lanes ensuring we all feel safe choosing a bike as a mode of transport. These lanes will increase cyclist safety and lower the number of accidents on the road. This should be done as part of a network, not just small bits of unconnected lanes, and be safe enough for everyone from young children to pensioners to be able to use with confidence. These cycle lanes should be segregated by a small kerb at the very least – not just a white line. That’s especially important near schools. This work will be politically difficult - it will need the backing of dedicated councillors who strongly believe in the cycling and walking agenda.

I will support “bike parks”, converting a small area in a car park for free, secure bike parking, particularly near transport hubs, as well as “Bike Bunkers” and look forward to supporting residents in getting them installed on their streets over the next few years.

We also need zebra crossings at minor junctions, to provide for pedestrian priority, alongside safer crossing points – we’ve worked to secure a reduction in the cost of installing such crossings so that they can be used much more. That, combined with improved and widened footpaths would really improve things for pedestrians - particularly those who need extra time or space. We need to ensure that temporary works do not cut off access to cycleways and footpaths. I will also push for lighting that is “human scale” directed at footpaths instead of towards carriageways, often leaving our paths in near darkness. 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.

I will also champion the introduction of annual car-free days in specific areas, to enable local markets and festivals, supporting communities that want car-free neighbourhoods. The DCC Greens have been very vocal when advocating for a movement towards to 30km/h zones as a default, especially in areas with housing and schools. I will prioritise investing in making roads safer to protect motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and reduce crashes. 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.

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 of hateful, xenophobic and homophobic politics is a very unwelcome development. It’s a go-nowhere ideology, based on constructed grievances and intolerance, largely imported from other politics. It’s not my worldview, nor that of my party, and I will always stand up for a welcoming, inclusive, and kind Dublin. Politicians should not indulge these kind of politics, but rather stand clearly against them. While our formal powers over these areas are limited, councillors can use our platforms to speak up against them. Across Europe, we have seen attempts to combat the rise of the far-right and anti-immigrant hate by adopting a more moderate version of their positions – this has inevitably failed and only fed their false and divisive narratives. Rather than adopting the same failed approaches we need to tackle the issues leading to the fears and subsequent hatred.

We need greater cooperation and support between Councils and civil society groups working with minorities. I will ensure that all Local Authority Integration Teams (LAITs) are fully staffed and can help to welcome new arrivals into our communities, including extra resourcing in counties with large numbers of Ukrainians and International Protection applicants. I will ensure that the council has a has a local migrant integration strategy, including the use of our council buildings to celebrate our diversity, including World Refugee Day.

We also need to address the structural inequalities of our communities, which are an injustice in themselves, but also a breeding ground for discontent. This means improving housing, supporting young people, access to justice for individuals and communities, enhanced school supports, and wraparound supports for everyone impacted by homelessness.