Ellen O'Doherty

Social Democrats candidate for North Inner City

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

It's safe to say that the levels of social and affordable housing in the north inner city (and nationally) are completely insufficient. While I do believe that housing supply is a difficult one for individual councillors to deliver, I also believe that with progressive and people-focused councillors, there is plenty of fighting for housing that can be done.

People shouldn’t be pushed out of the city, out of areas they grew up in to new developments in the suburbs, where the majority of the cost rental scheme housing is. The inner city has always been a bustling, diverse and community-driven area- I would hate to this change with only those who can afford exorbitant rents or huge mortgages able to live in the NIC.

We are lucky that we have space for development in the north inner city but I don’t believe we're taking a strategic enough view of these sites. We have seen so many sites zoned for private student accommodation, and aparthotels, which we know are a backdoor way of increasing supply for short-term, tourist-focused lets. On my road in Stoneybatter alone, there are two large-scale student housing developments and serious talk of a third. These developments typically add no community amenities, are often an eye-sore in our communities and fail us all, sadly pitting residents against students rather than fostering inclusion and community integration.

As someone who benefitted from student housing, I know we need to expand the supply and improve the affordability to ensure equality of access. However, abdicating this responsibility to companies who are solely profit-motivated, allowing them to exploit students with eye-watering rents, whilst deepening an affordability crisis cannot be allowed to continue.

We have space, but not an endless supply of sites like Hendrons Building, Telephone House and Infirmary Road. I believe that by taking a more strategic, people-focused and long-term approach to zoning and planning these sites could be providing much-needed homes that serve the community, to ensure that the inner city is an affordable place to live for all, rather than a select few.

I believe we need to take bold and decisive action to begin to tackle the housing crisis. If elected I will work with other councillors to advocate for a significant increase in social and affordable housing construction. This includes working closely with housing associations, and community groups to identify suitable sites for development, as well as consultation processes with resident groups about new developments. Additionally, I will push for balanced and streamlined planning processes to expedite the construction of these much-needed homes.

Sites like O’Devaney Gardens represent the potential for developments in the north inner city. There’s another council-owned brownfield site on Infirmary Road which has amazing potential for more housing, but we need to centre foresight and consultation in this process. It cannot just be about getting housing built, we need to ensure that developments are appropriate and fit for purpose. Housing built with proper consultation with existing residents, the flexing up of resources and amenities to accommodate population increases, and ensuring that properties built are a broad mix of units- public, affordable, family units, one and two beds is my priority. We know from experience that these are the developments that offer practical solutions and, importantly create community. These are the developments I am passionate about fighting for.

For me, very closely linked to housing is vacancy and dereliction, and highlighting these areas and finding solutions will be a priority for me as a councillor, which I’ve expanded upon below. The North Inner City has an 11% vacancy rate in some areas, which is more than double the national average in the 2022 Census figures. By Incentivising the renovation of vacant properties through grants we can turn more empty houses back into homes. I believe that by implementing measures such as the vacant tax levy, we can encourage property owners to put their buildings to productive use. I will champion responsible city planning that prioritises the needs of our communities over profit-driven interests.

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

I have been renting in Dublin for ten years, and during that time I have lived in some absolute dumps. Due to the chronic undersupply of rental accommodation, soaring demands and lack of housing security in the city I was so disempowered as a renter during this time. I have felt that I couldn’t do or say anything, for fear of potential rent hikes, losing my home if my landlord wanted to find tenants who wouldn't stand up for themselves, knowing that I had nowhere else to go. I know from speaking to my friends, colleagues and neighbours that tens of thousands of people in Dublin find themselves in that same situation.

I believe that improving conditions in existing housing can greatly improve the quality of life for residents in Dublin's North Inner City. To achieve this, I will push for stricter enforcement of housing standards and regulations, holding landlords accountable for maintaining safe and habitable properties. This includes increasing inspections and imposing penalties on landlords who neglect their statutory responsibilities to their tenants.

If elected I will work with DCC to scale up the number of Environmental Health Officers we have. We have been forced to become a city of renters, yet the necessary services and supports for renters have not scaled up to reflect those numbers. The Environmental Health Section and the RTB are snowed under and unable to sufficiently regulate the market to ensure everyone is living in a safe, warm and healthy home that is fit for purpose.

We need to ensure we do not just apply these standards to private landlords and tenants, people living in social housing are just as entitled to safe and fit-for-purpose homes. An assurance that rent paid to the council should be ring-fenced for maintenance and upkeep of council housing- that is a no brainer and something I will work on furthering. We have a massive national budget surplus- I believe that freeing up some of these funds to future proof our current social housing stock and carry out essential improvements is the kind of strategic, long-term and proactive thinking we need.

I will continue to be a passionate advocate for tenant rights and protections, including measures to prevent unfair evictions and rent increases. Strengthening tenants' rights empowers individuals and families to assert their housing rights without fear of retaliation. I would advocate for a European model of longer-term leases- they provide security of tenancy for families and single renters.

Working with groups like Threshold and CATU, I would champion an information campaign to ensure that all renters, private and social, are aware of their rights, of the standards that their rented homes,, must adhere to, and make it easier to access supports if their homes do not meet those standards.

I believe that investing in community-led initiatives for housing maintenance and improvement fosters a sense of ownership and pride among residents. By supporting neighbourhood associations and tenant groups, we can mobilise collective efforts to address issues like dampness, disrepair, and inadequate amenities in both social and privately rented accommodation.

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

This is a topic I have been hearing from people on the doors a lot, its also one of the reasons I put myself forward for election! This has led me to create a full litter and waste management policy for the North Inner City. As most of us live in densely structured housing- terraced houses at street level and flats, it means our waste management needs are different from other areas and I believe that an inner city-specific waste management plan is the way to go. 

We won’t solve these problems overnight, solving the issue of littering, illegal dumping, and dog fouling requires a multifaceted approach; infrastructure improvements, investment in cleaning resources, and community engagement. If elected, I would look to work with both residents and fellow councillors to implement the following specific measures:

  • Increased Surveillance and Enforcement: Deploying CCTV cameras in local ‘hotspot’ areas known for illegal dumping and littering to act as a deterrent. This surveillance can help to identify offenders and make the enforcement penalties more effective. 
  • Making sure that litter warden and street cleaning rosters match the reality on the ground. Increasing the presence and visibility of litter wardens and waste enforcement officers can make it easier to enact timely intervention and enforcement actions.
  • Strategic Placement of Waste Bins: Ensuring an adequate number of waste bins are strategically placed throughout the city, particularly in areas with high foot traffic is crucial. Properly placed bins can encourage responsible waste disposal and reduce littering. The functionality of these bins can be improved by installing separate bins for recyclables, general waste, and organic waste to promote recycling and proper waste segregation.
  • Public Awareness Campaigns: Launching public awareness campaigns to educate residents about the importance of proper waste disposal and the consequences of littering and illegal dumping is essential. These campaigns can include signage indicating the nearest bring centres and bottle banks, and alongside educational materials, and community workshops we can promote a culture of cleanliness and environmental stewardship. 
  • Serious Investment in Waste Collection Infrastructure: Upgrading our waste collection infrastructure to improve efficiency and responsiveness is something the council should be at the forefront of exploring. I believe this is vital for fostering community trust in the Council’s ability to keep our streets clean. From knocking on doors and chatting to residents I have heard a lot that this belief has been hugely eroded.  Investing in modern waste collection vehicles equipped with GPS tracking systems for optimal route planning and real-time monitoring for example could make a huge difference.. Additionally, exploring innovative technologies such as smart waste bins that signal when they are full can streamline waste collection operations, dog poo bag dispensers and additional ‘doggy toilets’ that were recently installed on Sean McDermott St. 
  • Community Clean-up Initiatives: Empowering community-led clean-up initiatives by providing resources and support to local volunteer groups like Stoneybatter PoP and Ballybough PoP, and the Big Spring Clean is key. Organising regular clean-up events mobilises community participation and fosters a sense of pride in keeping our neighbourhoods clean. Providing equipment such as gloves, litter pickers, and bags can facilitate these efforts.
  • Enhanced Street Cleaning Equipment: Investing in state-of-the-art street cleaning equipment, such as mechanical sweepers and high-pressure washers, is vital. Regular maintenance and servicing of this equipment, along with transparency around this can ensure optimal performance and cleanliness of public spaces.
  • Green Spaces and Public Parks Maintenance: Enhancing the maintenance of green spaces and public parks discourages littering and illegal dumping. Regular landscaping, grass cutting and litter removal in these areas create inviting and pleasant environments for residents to enjoy, reducing the likelihood of littering and vandalism. We also need to do more work to ensure the accessibility of of these spaces ensuring the needs of disabled residents are upheld, actionable ensuring step-free access and sufficient ramps are a baseline we can build upon.
  • Integration of Technology: I am proposing a full review of the litter reporting portal. I have heard from many residents who have reported litter and heard nothing back via this portal and are feeling seriously let down. Utilising technology solutions such as mobile applications for reporting littering and illegal dumping incidents empowers residents to report incidents quickly and easily are essential to improving the functionality of these online services. This facilitates fast action by Dublin City Council, improving response times and accountability. I would also like to roll out an information campaign targeted at older residents who may be unfamiliar with the portal and its functionality. 
  • Collaboration with Local Businesses: Partnering with local businesses to promote responsible waste management practices and provide incentives for businesses to implement waste reduction and recycling initiatives is essential. Working with businesses to adopt sustainable practices contributes to a cleaner environment and strengthens community partnerships.  I would also expand the BagBin initiative to businesses across the inner city, protecting commercial waste from those pesky seagulls.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

The vacancy rate in the north inner city is twice the national average in some areas, which is appalling!  Vacant areas in our communities present untapped potential for community improvement, and this potential needs to be harnessed. I am dedicated to reclaiming these spaces for the benefit of our communities. I would say it’s time to think outside the box regarding the inner city, but urban rejuvenation is hardly a radical idea.

We are told repeatedly that Dublin is getting wealthier. Bigger, better, shinier. This is true if we are counting the hotels and large vacant commercial property blocks that occupy the space of former iconic venues, but it is hard to see the added value this wealth has brought during my ten years of living in this city. All I’ve noticed is that my and my neighbours' rents have skyrocketed. The inner city has continued to succumb to vacancy and dereliction. 

The most sustainable building is the one that is already built, and I believe that sustainability should be at the heart of all actions we take. By tackling vacancy and dereliction  we can bring valuable space back into use but it is also a valuable opportunity to incorporate more sustainability into the regeneration and revitalisation of the inner city. 

Addressing vacancy and dereliction more broadly requires proactive policies, both short and long-term strategies and targeted interventions. If elected, I would take the following steps to reclaim our city's spaces for community use:

  • Advocate for the application of the vacant tax levy to all applicable properties, incentivising property owners to bring vacant buildings back into productive use.
  • Work with fellow councillors to push for the compulsory acquisition of derelict buildings by Dublin City Council. This allows for the restoration and refurbishment of neglected properties, potentially converting them into much-needed housing or community facilities.
  • I think combatting vacancy and dereliction by revitalising neglected spaces in our community such as the Ambassador Theatre is another good avenue to brining cultural vitality back to the inner city, while combatting vacancy and dereliction. As a poet myself, it pains me to see the dwindling space for culture, music and art in our inner city which has historically been Dublin's hub for music, culture and the arts. 
  • If elected I would prioritise the redevelopment of key locations such as the Smithfield Fruit and Veg Market, George’s Dock, Hammond Lane, and Aldborough House, advocate for the compulsory acquisition of derelict buildings by the City Council to enable community-focused restoration projects such as housing developments like Tyrrell Place as opposed to aparthotels such as the planning permission approved for Telephone House last year. 
  • Right next to Telephone House on Marlborough St are a series of commercial and retail units, with vacant, derelict, and crumbling residential units on the 1st and 2nd floors. I believe that bringing residential units like these back into use would revitalise the streetscape and be a good stepping stone to fighting vacancy and dereliction in the inner city. 
  • A huge issue I’ve noticed is that sites become tied up in protracted planning stages and red tape while the area remains unusable by the public and an idle eyesore. Some spaces, like the Smithfield Fruit and Veg Market, are just unsafe, but I would love to see an exploration of temporary usage of public land that is being disused for long periods of time due to planning issues, such as Hammond Lane, as space for temporary markets. 
  • Collaborate with community groups, and urban planners to identify creative solutions for repurposing vacant spaces. This could include initiatives such as pop-up shops, community gardens, or cultural hubs that revitalise abandoned areas and contribute to the vibrancy of our neighbourhoods. The dual issues of declining cultural spaces and vacancy could also be targeted by initiatives to facilitate pop-up studio and rehearsal space in vacant buildings. I truly believe that these spaces would benefit the inner city enormously, and whilst I acknowledge that artists require long term residency space and security of tenure, these pop ups could maintain footfall levels and fight vacancy across the ey strand in the tapestry. It’s evident to those of us living in the inner city that the underlying cause of many of these issues is that our communities have been left behind, in both resourcing and development.


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

I have rarely felt unsafe in Dublin until more recently, and I know from speaking with residents during my campaign that I am not alone in this, particularly amongst other women, people with young families as well as older residents. Like many of our problems there is no ‘quick fix’ to this - we need to take a multi-strand approach. A more visible garda presence may help us to feel safer in the short term, but it does not solve the underlying issues that cause antisocial behaviour that can make the city a less inviting place.

Drug-related harm in the north inner city has increased massively, and I know from my work in public health that our services are struggling to keep up. I have seen a huge spike in open drug dealing and drug use in the streets around my house, and from what I hear from residents all over the inner city, around their homes too. Often these streets are very quiet and not well-lit at night, which adds to the intimidation factor and a feeling of unease.

Outreach and youth services are key to enhancing the feeling of living in an actual community for many of us. The city can be an isolating place and can feel hostile for young people who have nowhere to go and it is something I have felt as a young person living in the North Inner City. I believe that supporting young people through investment in local sports grounds, education and cultural groups, and youth clubs is vital to show them they have a place in our communities and to foster an increased sense of belonging and community inclusion.

Ensuring the safety and security of all residents is a top priority for me. To create a safer city, I will focus on the following initiatives:

  • Strengthen community policing efforts by increasing collaboration between law enforcement agencies and local communities. This includes expanding community outreach programs to foster trust and communication between residents and the Gardai. 
  • Improve street lighting and infrastructure to enhance visibility and deter criminal activity. By investing in well-lit public spaces, we can create a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists, particularly during the evening hours.
  • Promote community-led initiatives for crime prevention and intervention, such as restorative justice programs and youth outreach initiatives. By empowering residents to take an active role in addressing safety concerns, we can build stronger, more resilient communities. I will work with groups like Restorative Justice Services, and invite them to run restorative justice workshops for youth groups and community groups across the inner city. 
  • Advocate for investment in social services and support networks that address the root causes of crime and violence. This includes funding for mental health services, addiction treatment programs, and affordable housing initiatives that provide stability and support to vulnerable individuals and families. I have seen people who have suffered harm or had their recovery impacted by lengthy waits for a mental health or addiction treatment bed.


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

As someone who doesn’t drive, public transport in the city is all I have ever known, and I have my own gripes with it. Ghost buses, regular disruptions to the luas lines, overcrowding and limited services have become part and parcel of our public transport networks in the city. Anyone who has used public transport in other European cities knows just how much our services are missing the mark. Expanding and improving our public transport services are essential for reducing congestion, improving air quality, and enhancing mobility for residents in Dublin's North Inner City. To achieve these goals, I will champion the following initiatives:

  • Prioritise sustainable transport solutions, such as electric buses and bicycles, to reduce emissions and mitigate transportation's environmental impact.
  • Enhance accessibility and affordability of public transport services for all residents, particularly those living in underserved areas or facing financial or disability-related barriers. This includes exploring fare reduction programs for low-income individuals, conducting inner city too. 
  • Ensure the implementation of the Dublin City Centre Transport Plan.

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

As I said, I don’t drive, yet I don’t cycle as much as I would like to because I’m quite nervous cycling on busy roads. I think this is a really important issue. Increased pedestrianisation is a really welcome thing here in the north inner city, where the streets are narrow and air quality is a concern. I think this needs to be in tandem with sufficient information campaigns to protect pedestrians and disabled residents. Improving pedestrian and cycling infrastructure is essential for promoting active mobility and creating safer, more vibrant streets in Dublin's North Inner City. To achieve this, I will focus on the following strategies:

  • Invest in the development of dedicated cycle lanes and pedestrian-friendly pathways to enhance safety and comfort for cyclists and pedestrians. By separating active modes of transportation from vehicular traffic, we can reduce the risk of collisions and improve the overall pedestrian and cycling experience.
  • Encourage traffic calming measures and pedestrian-friendly urban design features, such as raised crosswalks, traffic islands, and street furniture. These interventions create safer, more inviting environments for pedestrians and cyclists, encourage active travel, and reduce reliance on cars. values are a cornerstone of my campaign, and I hope to bring them to Dublin City Council if elected in June. 
  • Implement measures to address key safety concerns for pedestrians, particularly disabled pedestrians , wheelchair users, and cyclists. These measures include improving visibility at junctions and enhancing lighting along pathways. 
  • Promote community engagement and participation in the planning and design process for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. By involving local residents in this decision-making, we can ensure that infrastructure improvements align with the needs of the community.
  • Support initiatives to increase bicycle parking and storage facilities throughout the city, making it easier for residents to cycle for transportation and recreation. I live in a terraced house shared with three other people, our garden looks like a bike shed most of the time, and we are lucky to have a garden which can accommodate all our bikes! Other residents may not have this space so bike bunkers are vital to their capacity to cycle in the city. By providing secure and convenient parking options, we can encourage more people to choose cycling as a sustainable mode of transportation.
  • Collaborate with local businesses, community organisations and disability rights groups to identify pedestrian-friendly initiatives, such as street markets, outdoor seating areas, and cultural events that accommodate everyone, activate public spaces and enhance the pedestrian experience for everyone.


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

I have experienced far-right intimidation personally and know the deep impact this can have on individuals and communities. I am resolute about standing up to and combating their hate, to ensure that we can all live in a safe, inclusive and welcoming Dublin.

My background, first going to an Educate Together school and then subsequently working with LGBTQ+ and Women's Rights groups as an adult, instilled and deepened my belief in the importance of diversity, inclusivity, and equity. These are values which I have centred my campaign on and if elected in June, will bring to Dublin City Council as a progressive councillor seeking to represent everyone who calls the North Inner City home.

The kind of hate and division we’ve seen on our streets diverts efforts and attention away from improving our city and our society. The issues and talking points of housing, amenities and resources that right-wing activists say are the result of migrants coming to Ireland are actually caused by over a decade of a neo-liberal government that has defunded our public services and our welfare state. I believe we must do the following:

  • Promote inclusivity and diversity through community engagement and education initiatives. By fostering dialogue and understanding among residents from diverse backgrounds, we can build stronger, more cohesive communities that reject intolerance and discrimination. To ensure we reach as many people as possible through these initiatives, I would reach out to groups such as the NIC Side by Side, East Wall for All, and D7 for All. 
  • Advocate for policies and legislation that combat hate speech and hate crimes, including robust anti-discrimination laws and hate crime legislation that holds those who incite hatred responsible. This also includes preventing the amplification of dangerous and hateful content online. 
  • Support initiatives that promote social inclusion and integration, particularly for marginalised communities such as immigrants, refugees, and LGBTQ+ individuals. This includes funding for community-based organisations and support services that provide assistance and resources to those facing discrimination or hate-motivated violence.
  • Collaborate with local schools, youth organisations, and community groups to promote tolerance, respect, and empathy among young people. By instilling values of inclusivity and acceptance from an early age, we can prevent the spread of extremist ideologies and promote a culture of mutual respect and understanding.
  • Engage with civil society groups and human rights organisations to monitor and respond to incidents of hate speech and hate crimes, such as the Hope and Courage Collective. By working together to raise awareness and challenge discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, we can create a safer and more inclusive city for all residents.