Declan Meenagh

Labour Party candidate for Cabra-Glasnevin

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

The housing crisis is the social rights issue of our generation and is the hardest part of my role as a councillor to deal with. The numbers go up and up and the government shamefully ignore them and refuse to bring back the eviction ban. I am living with my parents at the age of 34 which is something none of us imagined would happen and it is repeated across the city.   I am fighting to deliver every social and affordable unit I can. In the development plan I fought to limit build to rent and make houses universally accessible. I am working on local projects, and forced Transport Infrastructure Ireland to quickly resolve an issue that was limiting social and affordable housing on Bannow Road.   Sadly, the delays in housing are caused by central government not only doing nothing but actively frustrating our work. It is inexcusable that there is still a 4-stage approval process that pretends construction inflation does not exist. It is shameful that the government took so long to bring out the zoned land value tax and it is sickening that they delayed it by a year for no reason, giving land hoarders another year of contributing to the housing crisis with no consequence.   Government needs to let us build houses. We are ready and we just need them to stop interfering.

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

We need meaningful rent controls and an end to no fault evictions. It is shameful that the government ended the eviction ban and it must be reintroduced now. People are living in misery and they are afraid to complain because the landlord will evict them. This fear needs to change. My generation deserves the right to a secure home and the government is doing nothing. DCC are doing inspections and this is welcome but people are afraid to report.

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

Dog fouling is something I really hate. It is really inconsiderate and as I am visually impaired, I have no hope of missing it. I have secured funding for a local school, Gaelscoil Bharra, for the children to design posters and have them put up around the area. I think we need to tackle dog fouling with a bit of imagination, embarrassing people who don’t clean up after their dogs.   If re-elected I will work on setting up local responsible dog owner groups to do shared walks and make sure they have bags and scoops with them. Also I am looking at helping older people with volunteers to take the dogs on walks.   I think for litter we should see a reduction in the number of bottles and cans after the deposit scheme, although I am disappointed that the machines are inaccessible and it is not covered in home delivery services, which disabled and older people can depend on so yet another failure to disability proof climate policy.   One way of tackling litter is by reducing the amount of needless packaging we create. For more serious dumping we have new CCTV powers which should help tackle it. Sadly, this is taking too long and the Data Protection Commissioner has delayed this process at an unacceptable level.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

At the moment DCC is looking at vacancy and dereliction. There is already a very generous scheme for property owners and a high demand for these properties so it is really wrong that they are left empty. Compulsory purchase is taking too long and is too expensive. We need more powers on this and we need the resources to make it happen.   Active Land Management is where a government body buys derelict properties and brings them back into use. Dublin City Council is doing this but the funding is not there. Property is expensive in Dublin and we need to be properly resourced to do this. There are problems with state aid rules and procurement as well as blocks on our ability to borrow so this all needs to be changed. Again I am really ambitious to tackle dereliction in my city but the department of local government is not.

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

Safety is a huge problem and people have the right to be safe in our city. Garda recruitment is at crisis levels and Gardi can’t afford to live in Dublin. Important positions like Juvenile Liaison Officers are not being filled and are overworked.   We can’t keep locking people up as our prisons are overcrowded. We need a robust system to deter crime, with more community sentences and more services that are properly resourced. Quite a lot of failures in the health system are being delt with by the justice system and that is not good enough.

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

The Bus Connects proposals are holding up everything. They are too ambitious to do all at once and should have been tried with smaller parts and adapted. If Dublin bus could run radial roots around the city that could have been done on top of the existing bus system. I feel we need to tackle safety and make bus driving a more attractive option for people. We also need to have more public toilets available for these bus drivers.   We need stronger protections for transport workers. The violent assaults they face need to stop and there needs to be a stronger Garda response to tackle this. I fully support SIPTU’s Respect Transport Workers campaign.   The Luas is a great option and should be expanded with more trams and lines. MetroLink is also a great addition and needs to be advanced. The Dart+ projects are welcome but the community consultation needs to be improved. I am also delighted that Irish Rail are finally providing a second station in Cabra, as I called for, but this is taking too long.

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

We have already delivered safer cycling infrastructure. We need to keep the focus on vulnerable pedestrians, and not make people feel unsafe, this means we need to get rid of shared spaces and have safe cycle lanes separate from the footpath.   We need to reduce the speed of cars and it is disappointing we can’t go ahead with the 30kph speed limit in the city. Again this is the government interfering and not letting councils do their job.

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 simple answer is more democracy. They feed on hate and lies and the only way to tackle this is by telling the truth. Labour has always stood on the side of solidarity and delivering more rights.   I am proud of my role in supporting the great win on marriage equality and I strongly believe that LGBTQ+ people deserve our respect and support.   We don’t have a migration crisis, we have a housing crisis and a failure of government to deliver safe accommodation for people in Dublin, regardless of where they come from. Seeing people sleeping in tents in the snow while state buildings are empty is appalling and we must not stand for it. People seeking protection in Ireland deserve better. We also have jobs we can’t fill such as bus drivers. It is so obvious that people should be sent on driving courses and those who are able should quickly be employed by Dublin Bus.   People looking for protection should get it. The government is turning to the right instead of trying to fix the housing crisis and that is really disappointing.