Declan Cairns

Sinn Féin candidate for Ongar

How would you help get more housing built in Fingal?

Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget for Housing 2024 offers detailed proposals to address the growing housing crisis, focusing on building affordable homes. It proposes an additional €1.4 billion in capital spending and €300 million in Approved Housing Body borrowing to create 21,000 social, affordable rental, and affordable purchase homes in the following year. The Alternative Budget seeks to implement a major policy change to tackle the housing crisis, which has worsened under past and present governments.

The Sinn Féin team has brought up issues at local and council meetings concerning tenant in situ details, highlighting the importance of supporting tenants who have been served eviction notices. With numerous landlords opting to sell in the private market, the existing system is excessively drawn out. We are dedicated to pressing the FCC to speed up this process and persist in advocating for the use of publicly zoned residential land in Fingal to build social and affordable housing.

At the October council meeting, Sinn Féin councillors and others greenlit the subsequent phase of 300 homes with sports amenities in Churchfields, Mulhuddart. This development, spanning 37 hectares, is a segment of the Churchfields master plan. Construction, which started late the previous year, will yield 180 affordable purchase homes, 80 cost rental homes, and 40 social homes. In the end, the site will offer a total of 1,000 new homes. The project will also feature a crèche, community amenities, retail spaces, and multiple public green areas, including a linear park and the upgrade of an existing park in the vicinity.

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

The Sinn Féin team is committed to improving the Housing Estates alongside new developments, which were constructed with insufficient community, educational, or transport infrastructure. Many estates lack a playground for young children, with the nearest one being a considerable distance away, requiring a drive or a long walk. Efforts are also underway to improve regions lacking sufficient amenities. The Fingal County Council has conducted a play review for Dublin 15, identifying the areas that require additional play facilities for children.

The Development Plan, adopted last year, firmly endorses the inclusion of amenities and services. Developments approved in Fingal have integrated these elements into their plans, and the timing of this work is crucial. The construction of homes must proceed concurrently with the necessary infrastructure.

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

The plans are indeed impressive, and the DAA offers a remarkable service. However, the lack of consultation with residents and adherence to planning agreements (a point of contention with the DAA) has led to legal action by both FCC and the DAA. Numerous motions have been presented to the council, with Ann Graves, the SF councillor for Swords, spearheading efforts to support residents affected by noise from additional nighttime flights deviating from their designated path.

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

While the Dart + West is a long-awaited addition for Dublin West residents, it remains years away. Dublin 15 urgently requires public transport access to the airport. The BusConnects project is slated to provide this service; however, despite initial promises for a 2024 launch, it has now been postponed to the following year.

The BusConnects project has pledged numerous improvements, many of which are eagerly anticipated. Nonetheless, not all proposals have been met with approval, and the Sinn Féin team in Dublin West is committed to seeking viable solutions for the community. A current concern in Dublin 15 is the prevalence of 'ghost buses'—buses that fail to appear as scheduled. This issue was brought to the attention of the National Transport Authority (NTA) following a motion I presented, which called for a meeting with the area committee. The NTA attributed these occurrences to staff shortages, assuring that staffing levels have since been rectified. Despite these assurances, the problem persists, and it continues to be addressed with the NTA, at the council level, and in the Dáil by Paul Donnelly TD.

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

As a Sinn Féin Representative for the Ongar LEA, I often receive messages from residents concerning speeding and hazardous parking. Fingal County Council is set to install ramps in busy areas, but this requires the consent of most residents and approval by the Gardaí, which can be challenging to obtain. Building a case involves compiling a record of reported incidents to the Gardaí in the affected area. All our residential areas enforce a 30kph speed limit, clearly indicated by signs. While residents may hesitate to report dangerous driving by their neighbors to the Gardaí, it is a necessary step in addressing the issue. Dangerous parking, often linked to inadequate housing, presents a significant challenge. It's not uncommon for homes to house six adults due to insufficient public transport, leading to three or four cars per household. Consequently, residents struggle with parking, often resorting to corners and grass verges, which obstructs visibility and damages the verges.

I have requested that the traffic engineer examine these concerns to identify potential solutions. For instance, on the slip road from the N3 to Littlepace, we at Dublin West Sinn Féin proposed making the left lane a left-turn only to alleviate traffic congestion backing up onto the N3. The traffic engineer implemented this change, significantly improving traffic flow in the area. Additionally, a Variable Message Sign (VAS) has been installed on the Ongar Distributor Road following further representations.

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

Significant efforts have been made to enhance the cycling and walking infrastructure in Fingal. Dublin West now boasts several new cycle lanes, whose designs are continually improving following initial errors, such as bus stops placed in the middle of lanes instead of routing the bike lane around the bus stop, in my view. The Hartstown/Huntstown cycle lanes initially faced opposition from many Dublin 15 residents due to their unattractive poles, yet they are increasingly being utilized. The Dublin West Sinn Féin team has made numerous submissions regarding the maintenance of these cycle lanes to ensure they meet a satisfactory standard.

For residents with limited mobility or sight, the elderly using walking aids, and parents with strollers, trip hazards pose a significant issue. Since showing interest in running for council, I have made several CRM submissions to Fingal County Council, more than half concerning trip hazards, which were subsequently addressed by the operations team.

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

Dublin West boasts numerous green spaces and parks. Councillor Angela has proposed a motion to rezone the community allotment in Powerstown as open space, ensuring its protection for the future. It serves as an excellent amenity and a vital hub for biodiversity, which is increasingly necessary.

Fingal County Council has committed to 100 actions to enhance biodiversity, including the introduction of wildflower meadows on many roundabouts and appropriate green spaces. All parks feature natural areas, and hundreds of new trees have been planted. Regular clean-ups are conducted, and wildflower meadows have been established in areas that were previously overgrown.

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

The plans for the new Corduff FC football grounds and adjacent park were presented to the public for feedback. After some adjustments from the public consultation, the plans for Corduff FC's facilities in Corduff are now excellent, featuring sports facilities, a play area, and a biodiversity zone. This will be our model moving forward.

Sports clubs are crucial to our community, and I collaborate closely with local clubs to enhance their facilities. Together with Cllr Angela Donnelly, we succeeded in getting a motion passed for lighting in Hartstown Park, ensuring children can safely walk to the all-weather facility during dark evenings.

It's unacceptable that many clubs in Fingal lack proper facilities and changing rooms in 2024, especially for our girls and young women whom we want to keep engaged in sports.

FCC launched a transition year girls' soccer program that was immensely successful last year, building on the longstanding boys' program. These initiatives are vital for keeping our youth engaged in sports. I am committed to providing the necessary facilities and will continue to champion this cause.

Moreover, efforts are being made to engage the entire community in activities. The new Arch club, Thrive, for children with dyspraxia in Dublin 15, offers a secure environment for sports. The highly popular skate park in Millennium Park should be replicated. Significant efforts have been made to promote cycling for all ages and abilities. Sport should be inclusive, and I am dedicated to supporting this ethos.