Eimer McCormack

Fianna Fáil candidate for Cabra-Glasnevin

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

Fianna Fáil has a proud tradition of building homes and since entering government in 2020 we have turned the tide on housing with the largest numbers of homes being built and being bought in a generation under our Housing for All plan.

I will work with my party and local authority colleagues to continue to significantly increase the availability and supply of housing and we believe that the State has a fundamental role in enabling the delivery of new homes, public and private.

Supporting home ownership is a core objective of our party. I will work hard to expand supports available to first time buyers and renters, while also incentivising landlords to stay in the rental market and to provide long-term leases through tax cuts. This includes protecting, extending and expanding the Help to Buy Scheme, the First Home Scheme, and the Vacancy Refurbishment Grants, among others.

The implementation of the historic new Planning Bill, under the direction of Minister Darragh O’Brien, and spearheaded by the local authorities and will de-risk and accelerate home building, allowing us to achieve our ambitious new targets of 300,000 homes by 2030.

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

In today's private rented sector, it's evident that far too many homes are in a state of disrepair, posing significant threats to the health and wellbeing of their occupants. Addressing this pressing issue is paramount, and I am committed to enhancing these conditions to guarantee that everyone has access to affordable and high-quality housing, regardless of whether it's through social or private rental avenues.

I am dedicated to exploring a comprehensive array of measures available to local councils, empowering them to take decisive enforcement actions and clamp down on unscrupulous landlords who, whether knowingly or unwittingly, subject their tenants to substandard living conditions, leading to adverse health effects and emotional distress.

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

It’s a goal of every city to provide a clean and pleasant environment for its citizens to live and work. However, the management and disposal of municipal waste, upkeep of sewage systems, and establishment of urban recycling programmes constitute significant allocations within a local authority’s budget. With the correct planning and appropriate expenditure, the local authority can cultivate a highly liveable environment, characterised by minimal pollution, visually appealing streets and public areas, and a path towards sustainability for its residents. I will work hard to ensure this is a reality.

I will fight to increase penalties to combat illegal dumping and littering while also ensuring the sufficient provision of bins and the proliferation of public litter bins, including those for waste separation. I will work to ensure that general local authority services such as street cleaning and litter picking are increased to improve the public realm and to ensure that we all have a clean and prosperous place to live, work, and do business.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

Addressing vacancy and dereliction is a key priority for Fianna Fáil, and this is no different at local authority level. The Vacant Homes Action Plan, which was launched in January 2023, outlines the significant progress that has been made in addressing vacancy, along with the actions that are being pursued to return as many vacant properties back into use as possible. There are now a range of schemes and supports in place to support addressing vacancy.

One of these key initiatives to address vacancy and dereliction has been the introduction of the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant under the Croí Cónaithe Towns Fund. From May 2023, up to a maximum of €50,000 in grant funding is available to support the refurbishment of a vacant property into a home. Where the property is confirmed as derelict, up to a maximum of €70,000 in grant funding is available.

This, along with other schemes such as the Repair and Leasing Scheme, the Buy and Renew Scheme, and the new CPO Activation Programme are all working to decrease rates in vacancy and dereliction, and I will continue to push these programmes of work to ensure that we see further significant increases in properties coming on stream to buy and rent.

I will also work hard with my colleagues to ensure that the local authority is utilising every mechanism available to it under planning regulations to bring vacant properties back to the market, such as the regulations that exempt the need for certain vacant commercial premises, including ‘over the shop’ type spaces, from requiring planning permission change to residential purposes. I will also ensure that the Vacant Homes Officer in the local authority is doing all in their powers to speed up this process.

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

Prioritising public safety is paramount. As opposed to making the city ‘feel’ safe, I will commit to making it a reality that the city is safe. This will involve a multifaceted approach, with collaboration from the local authority, An Garda Síochána, community organisation, and residents. This needs buy in from right across society and I will work hard to be the link that makes it a reality. Greater visibility of Gardaí in high-traffic areas and crime hotspots can deter criminal activity and provide reassurance to residents and visitors.

I will look to implement community policing programmes that foster positive relationships between law enforcement and the community, ensuring collaboration and information- sharing to prevent crime.

Adequate street lighting is also key to ensuring public safety at nighttime. I will work to improve street lighting in dimly lit areas and alleyways to make pedestrians feel safer and reduce opportunities for criminal behaviour. Similarly, the correct rollout of CCTV in strategic locations can act as a deterrent to crime and aid in the investigation and prosecution of offenders. This will all need to be backed up by initiatives aimed at addressing specific types of crime prevalent in the city such as theft, vandalism, and antisocial behaviour.

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

Improving public transport in Dublin City and across its suburbs requires a comprehensive approach that addresses various aspects of the transportation system. We need to see an expansion of services that increase the frequency and coverage of public transportation routes to serve more areas within the city and its outskirts. This includes expanding bus, tram (Luas), and commuter rail (DART) services to connect underserved neighbourhoods and suburbs.

Enhancing the availability of real-time information on schedules, routes, and service disruptions through mobile apps, digital displays at stops, and online platforms to improve passenger convenience and reliability is also key. I will work with transport providers to ensure that this becomes a reality.

I am also passionate about the need to ensure that we have the correct services in place for people with disabilities. They need to be offered the same level of service as any other public transport user. I will engage with all transport operators to ensure that public transport infrastructure, vehicles, and services are accessible to people with disabilities and reduced mobility, including the provision of wheelchair ramps, priority seating, audible announcements, and tactile paving at stations and stops.

By implementing these measures, and many others, in a coordinated manner, Dublin can create a more efficient, accessible, and sustainable public transport system that meets the diverse needs of its residents and contributes to the city's overall liveability and economic prosperity.

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

Dedicated protected bike lanes in suitable areas need to be explored. But it is absolutely paramount that these lanes are well-maintained and clearly marked to enhance visibility and safety. Too often we see bike lanes that are covered in mud, rubbish and have uneven surfaces meaning that cyclists are forced to travel in car lanes. This needs to be urgently fixed for the safety of all road users.

Similarly, we need to see the implementation of more traffic calming measures, such as raised crosswalks, speed bumps, and narrower lanes, to reduce vehicle speeds and improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists at intersections and along residential streets.

Once cyclists have made their journey, they need to be provided with secure bike parking facilities – something which we have a dearth of. We need to provide secure bike parking facilities, such as bike racks, lockers, and bike-sharing stations, at strategic locations throughout the city to encourage cycling as a convenient and sustainable mode of transportation. These facilities should be well-lit and monitored to deter theft and vandalism.

Everyone wants to live in a pleasant space that is easy to traverse. As such, we need upgraded footpaths with wider pathways, tactile paving for visually impaired individuals, and ample lighting to enhance safety and accessibility for pedestrians, particularly in high- traffic areas and near public transport hubs.

More greenery, trees, and public seating along footpaths and bike lanes to create a more attractive and inviting environment for pedestrians and cyclists would also be a welcome step. Beautification efforts can also include public art installations and decorative lighting to enhance the streetscape.

For visitors to the city, we need to see the installation of clear and consistent wayfinding signage for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate the city easily and safely. This includes directional signs, distance markers, and maps at key locations to help users plan their routes effectively.

Lastly, local residents, businesses, and advocacy groups must be involved in the planning and design of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure to ensure that their needs and concerns are addressed. Community feedback can help identify priority areas for improvement and inform decision-making processes. By implementing these measures in a coordinated manner, Dublin can create a more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly city that prioritises safety, accessibility, and sustainability for all 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?

Addressing the rise of far-right extremism, anti-immigrant sentiment, and hate crimes targeting marginalised communities in Dublin City requires a concerted effort from us all. Education and awareness, community engagement, adequate law enforcement response, support services, and the creation of safe spaces and support networks all must form part of this response and I will do all that I can to ensure that these actions are implemented.