Edward McManus

Aontú candidate for Ballymun-Finglas

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

The main issue that I get tackled on at the doors is the shortage of housing, especially public housing. It is heart breaking to listen to the stories of fellow citizens deprived of what is a basic human right, adequate and safe shelter.

There have been fewer catastrophic decisions taken by government in the last few decades than the practical abandonment of social housing as a policy. The State, that proudly built huge social housing projects in the 1930s, 60s and 80s; stopped building social housing in recent decades which has led to the current housing disaster.

My party and I endorse the recent Housing Commission Report castigating the dependence of the state on HAP and other private schemes.

It is essential that DCC prioritise social housing. I am delighted that there is a development of a few hundred mixed units planned for Ballymun beside LIDL but much more is needed.

DCC has nearly 10 times the vacancy of other local authorities in Dublin and this needs to be rectified. The current turnaround time from vacancy to letting of over 8 months is not acceptable and will be a priority of mine if elected.

Ballymun/Finglas is a mixed community with a large community of young families, university students and older citizens. It is important that Dublin City Council Housing Policy reflect this reality and provide the appropriate mix of residential units.

When considering how to get more housing built in the city it should be community-led, not developer-led. There is no point building lots of apartments and ending up with a concrete jungle. I am raising concerns over the plans for the Unidare site on the Jamestown Road as the high density development will have create huge problems locally.

New developments need to work for the community in Ballymun, Ballygall, Finglas, Glasnevin and Santry first and foremost. We need to prioritise housing for families and people who are living and working in the area those who are going to put roots down and help build community, as opposed to more short term, transient renters. We need to ensure that families can live and grow, that we can build lasting networks that support and look out for every member of the community. There is a very strong sense of community and characteristic spirit locally and if elected to Dublin City Council I intend to protect and support this. I will fight for the people in our community- not for the profit-driven developers.

As an Aontú candidate I support Aontú’s proposals at a legislative level to improve the housing situation. These are:

  • To prioritise the building of social and affordable housing
  • To end land bank speculation
  • To incentivise long term rental agreements in rental properties
  • To end tax advantages for predatory Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

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

Accountability is so important in order to maintain and improve conditions in existing housing. In the case of social housing, it is the local authority who acts as landlord and who is responsible for maintaining and repairing housing. If elected, I would encourage budgetary spending in the area of inspections of social housing, responding in a timely manner to complaints and in the maintenance and repair of social housing.

In the case of privately rented accommodation, landlords must ensure rented homes meet minimum standards. These are set out in the ‘Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019’. This is supposed to be enforced by Dublin City Council but according to my feedback from residents, they don’t seem to be carrying out enough inspections to hold landlords to account. If elected, I would encourage and vote in favour of more spending on enforcing minimum standards regulations.

I support the local branch of CATU (Community Action Tenants Union) a non-political tenants action association. It is important that tenants support each other to maximise their strength.

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

Our environment has a large effect on how we feel about ourselves and our community. At a very basic level, more bins are needed in local housing estates especially dog waste bins. If elected I would demand more bins and that they be maintained to an acceptable standard.

Again, the sense of community is so important- in particular community spirit - having pride in your community and surroundings, working together to keep our area clean and pleasant for everyone. I encourage responsible pet ownership- people should clean it up their dog waste.

Enforcement and accountability comes into play here too- there are fines for dog fouling (ie, not cleaning up your dog’s mess) and if elected I would encourage a more regular inspection of public areas so that people who don’t clean up their dog’s mess are held to account.

DCC regularly remove street litter when I report it but do not seem to prosecute those responsible even in cases where there is personal correspondence addressed to the likely culprit as part of the waste. I will push for greater use of CCTV and prosecution.

I believe that DCC needs to review the decision to privatise waste collection. It has lead to a profitable private sector but with increased public costs to remove public littering.

At present, communities can organise a “Community Clean-Up” where volunteers come together to clean up an area and Dublin City Council provide the equipment needed and remove rubbish collected. If elected, I would ensure this type of endeavour is publicised and encouraged more by Dublin City Council.

The local Tidy Towns Committees do great work and need to be supported.

Standards in playgrounds and similar facilities need to be maintained so that they are clean and safe for children to use. Children are the future and we need to invest in maintaining playgrounds and facilities for them. This is a small ask of Dublin City Council and I would seek to enforce proper maintenance of these areas if elected.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

Vacancy and dereliction are a blight on this area. Aontú policy on housing includes incentivising the use of vacant properties and holding local authorities to account when it comes to the refurbishment and re-letting of these properties. Currently it takes the council, on average, 8 months to refurbish and re-let a vacant property. A private sector rental property takes 3 weeks to refurbish and re-let! One of the core tenets of Aontú’s vision for government is accountability in government and across public bodies. If elected I intend to hold Dublin City Council to account on the turnaround of vacant properties.

Regarding derelict properties, Aontú seek an increased tax on homes that are empty for over 2 years without good reason and a grant to get them back into use. Aontú also seek the increased power to compulsory purchase order (CPO) derelict houses that are the source of anti-social behaviour.

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

Based on feedback I have gotten from residents and business owners locally, feeling safe is their number one concern. The fact is, many people don’t feel safe in our community. Crime, open drug-use, vandalism, break-ins and anti-social behaviour have all increased. This needs to be tackled at several levels. Firstly, we need massive investment in the area- we need more Gardaí and more Garda visibility to deter crime and anti-social behaviour, and to enable Gardaí to respond to incidents promptly.

We also need to maximise the use of the Garda Reserve as an aide to the force. There are a lot of men and women who would be delighted to assist na gardaí in an official capacity.

A serious public safety issue that has plagued Ballymun, Finglas and other areas for years are the use of scrambler bikes on public roads without care for safety either for the public or themselves. Frequently these bikes are driven at speed by young men in balaclavas without helmets and without concern for traffic safety.

Our legislators have been deficient in supporting na gardaí in this area and they need to be provided with the resources to end this scourge.

Having said this I believe that we should follow the lead of other parts of the city and provide public fields for young people to safely ride their bikes.

Our young people deserve better and it would have a positive effect on the community as programmes and recreational facilities would provide some much needed engagement and act as an alternative to drug-taking and crime.

We have some fantastic campaigners and organisations that work with young people in locally, but we need more facilities to support this work. We also need more community gardaí to engage with young people in the area.

Residents of apartment buildings have contacted me to say that their children don’t feel safe in their own homes as non-residents are gaining access to the apartment common areas, selling/taking drugs and engaging in anti-social, intimidating behaviour. Dublin City Council needs to ensure that they and other landlords are keeping buildings adequately secure.

The Ballymun and Finglas Safety Forums do excellent work in organising safety meetings for the local people where they can speak directly to representatives of Dublin City Council and to community Gardaí. These meetings are very helpful to people in the community but need to meet more often and have structured approaches to deliver on resolving problems.

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

The Bus Connects projects has disappointed large sections of the community by replacing tried and tested bus routes with alternatives that will frequently be full before they arrive. I understand that some of these changes are postponed but this is not enough. If public transport is to work the public need to be kept informed and on board. Where entire communities universally reject changes there is something seriously wrong.

It is essential that we can all move freely and easily around the city and this is particularly true of the elderly and infirm. The National Transport Authority should engage consistently with commuters, especially those who are heavily reliant on public transport to take part in their community. Feedback and complaints from residents need to be responded to and acted upon.

For example, if there are delays in the Bus Connects Network Redesign then robust interim arrangements need to be made for the residents affected. Reliable real-time tracking of buses would also improve commuter experience in the city, as well as more public transport available at rush hour times.

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

Proper consultation is vital. There have been huge complaints from pedestrians, cyclists and motorists about the bus lanes on Griffith Avenue, Mobhi Road and Griffith Avenue extension. The public need to be adequately informed about proposals before they are carried out and given an opportunity to respond.

The maintenance of streets and footpaths is essential for safety for all of us.

Clear signage and traffic signals for motorists is important. Pedestrian crossings need to be highly visible and the zebra-crossing paint maintained. Citizen Hub on the Dublin City Council website is a facility whereby requests can be made, information accessed and reports/complaints issued.

Local residents have complained of the lack of engagement from Dublin City Council when contacted through the Citizen Hubs. If elected I would pursue a policy of prompt acknowledgement and response to issues raised through the Citizen Hub, especially in the maintenance of roads and footpaths.

What would you do to help counter the rise of the far right, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ+ hate, and anti-asylum-seeker arsons?

Politics are changing in this country and we need to respect this. If we disagree with a viewpoint we need to engage and argue with the person rather than label him/her.

I think we need to be careful with the term “far-right” and apply it correctly and with great caution when discussing immigration issues.

There is a danger that people are termed “far right” simply for raising concerns about large numbers of non-citizens moving into the area.

This is obviously a failure of government planning and certainly a lack of consultation with the community that has only succeeded in damaging trust and goodwill between the community and the decision-makers.

Concerned people should be free to criticise government policies that affect our communities without fear of being labelled.