Eoin Hayes

Social Democrats candidate for Kimmage-Rathmines

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

Summary: Proper target setting; Massively ramp up supply; better City Development Plan; more non-profit builds; more comprehensively tackling vacancy and dereliction

To deal with any problem, you first have to acknowledge it properly. The current targets for DCC’s social and affordable housing from 2024 to 2026 are about 9,000 units total. To put that in context, there are approximately 29,000 people on the social housing list as of January 2024 and 20% of those people have been waiting longer than 10 years. So very obviously the targets are not appropriate whatsoever. In the first instance, I will be advocating for proper target-setting so we actually grapple with the enormity of the crisis in front of us.

Secondly, it is clear we have to massively ramp up supply of housing. I will seek to do this locally in a few key ways:

  • Ensuring the City Development Plan matches the right targets across all types of housing in all parts of the city.
  • Advocating for clear plans from the Council’s management to develop more housing with non-profit cooperative schemes (which are cheaper), including unlocking and fast-tracking debt facilities for these builds.
  • Seeking to bring all - and yes, I mean all - derelict and vacant properties into use by increasing vacancy taxes, dereliction fines, and compulsory purchase orders in a “improve it or lose it in 12 months” policy combined with an improved grant and loan fund to help owners refurbish those properties to rent or sell.

Thirdly, it is clear that national housing supply policy is not delivering sufficient supply to solve the problem. The government missed its own targets on social and affordable homes last year by several thousand. The Social Democrats as a party, if elected to the next government, will nearly double the national targets for housing builds from about 30,000 to 50,000 homes per year, and massively increase the amount of social and affordable housing builds in particular.

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

Summary: Dublin City Council to set better standards; 1-month turnaround on repairs for social housing; Bye-laws to introduce penalties for private landlords leaving housing in disrepair for longer than a month

I want to see a 1 month service-level agreement (SLA) in place for any substandard conditions or maintenance issues in social housing with fines on Dublin City Council for not keeping housing up to standard. Allowing people who are supported by the State, especially vulnerable people who often have health conditions in the areas I seek to represent in Crumlin and Rathmines, to live in poor housing is a relic of Dickensian novels.

I want to see similar bye-laws passed for landlords in the Dublin City Council area - high penalties for breaching housing regulations or leaving any housing in disrepair for longer than a month. Again, our motto should be “improve it or lose it”, with the ultimate penalty being a compulsory purchase order on the property if it’s not brought to standard in good time.

Lastly, I want Dublin City Council to set better standards for accommodation being built in the future. We should have more appropriate space regulations, in particular storage space in apartments, light, ventilation, and insulation. It’s the 21st century - a century that will be dominated by climate and energy issues - and too much of our housing stock isn’t up to scratch.

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

Summary: Increase cleaning resources; More public bins and more dog bins; Bringing waste services back into public ownership through a small increase in property tax; Dog wardens increased to crack down on dog fouling.

Dublin City has about 40% fewer public bins (just over 3,000 today) than it had in 2011 (5,000). All of its waste services have been privatised since then, but its budget is about twice the size. So taxpayers are double paying for worse services.

As much as no one likes paying more taxes, I support the position of the Social Democrats in last year’s budget to fund an increase to cleaning services and expanded cleaning crews through a moderate increase (i.e. an average of ~50 euro per year) to the local property tax.

This would raise about €14.5 million to fund more extensive street cleaning, more public bins and more dog bins, serviced regularly by council maintenance crews, who do an exceptional job given the lack of resources. They were out within hours after the riots last year and I’ve been really impressed with them, but they need more funding to do more regular work.

I’d also like to see waste services come back into public ownership, so taxpayers aren’t double funding waste collection.

Dublin City Council has only 2 dog wardens in the city while the dog population has exploded after Covid. I’d like to see the dog warden department expand to deal with dog fouling and dog disturbances.

I also want to see higher on-the-spot fines imposed on illegal dumping or littering, including for people who don’t pick up after their dogs and create a major public sanitation problem. This may also help fund an expansion in services.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

Summary: “Improve it or lose it” on dereliction; Increase the vacancy tax to 10% funding a refurbishment fund; Bring council owned vacant and derelict properties back into use within 1 year.

There is no excuse for vacancy and dereliction during a housing crisis. Zero. Unfortunately the majority of the actions required to deal with this blight in our city need to be authorised by the central government to be actioned. However, I want to see several measures here, with the overall philosophy being one of penalising those that make our city worse.

Firstly, I want a policy of “improve it or lose it” on dereliction, with a compulsory purchase order issued by DCC if a property is not brought up to basic housing standards within 12 months.

Secondly, I want a vacancy tax increased in DCC to 10% of the estimated property value (not the commercial property rate), beyond the rate of property value inflation. And I want that rate to double for every year a property lies vacant, and a compulsory purchase order issued after 2 years.

Thirdly, I want all vacant and derelict properties owned by Dublin City Council, one the largest owners in the city, to be brought back into use within 1 year, with a financial penalty to the Council if that’s not delivered.

Fourthly, I want these measures to fund a grants and low-interest loan scheme for refurbishment of properties in the DCC area, to help incentivise owners to invest in those properties and bring them back into use.

There are other national issues I’m in support of like a referendum on the right to housing to deal with the thorny legal question of balancing the public good with property rights, as well as the expedition of legal cases related to properties in rent pressure zones, particularly those in probate. However, those are well beyond our jurisdiction on DCC.

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

Summary: More Garda presence; Investing in community and sports facilities; Improved facilities for rough sleepers; Safe injection facilities.

It’s really important to acknowledge that declines in public safety are multifaceted and often rooted long-term societal issues. My colleague Cllr Tara Deacy has been advocating for better public safety measures, including community engagement with at-risk youth since she was elected in 2019, and Covid has made things so much more difficult. Unfortunately those pleas fell on deaf ears, and were seeing the consequences of inaction now.

In the short-term, we need to invest in a more visible Garda presence on our streets, in particular in the city centre but also in public congregation spaces like shopping centres and parks and on public transport. People causing anti-social behaviour have to be held accountable for their actions.

But there are long-term things we need to do, as well, like investing in community and sports facilities, groups, and projects. Investment in younger people shouldn’t be a postcode lottery, and we need to make sure we’re investing most in the places where there's the most disadvantage. Diversion schemes have been enormously successful in some places but it requires funding and good management.

Additionally, we’re not seeing the level of investment required to help the rough sleepers in our capital city have enough safe emergency shelter or people suffering from addiction. Primarily this is an egregious human rights issue, but it also can create a perception for people that the city centre is less inviting. Helping these people and investing in the services they need - including mental health and trauma centres - is in all our interests.

I’m also in favour of safe injection centres, in particular the one proposed at Merchant’s Quay, and I’d like to see more safe injection centres across the city so we’re reducing open drug use in the city, reducing drug addiction-fuelled anti-social behaviour, and reducing fatalities among those suffering from addiction.

I’d like to see these things funded by enhanced commercial rates specifically for multinational corporations based in Dublin. Those who have profited greatly from our society should be part of making it safer for everyone.

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

Summary: Pushing for more ambitious public transport planning e.g. Metrolink West; Increasing bus frequency to ensure Busconnects is successful; Park and ride facilities along M50; Expanding the Dublin Bike Scheme; Increasing parking penalties for illegal parking.

About 100 years ago, Dublin was covered in trams. There was one to Rathgar and to Terenure. If we’re serious about tackling climate change, we have to make green public transport a high priority in the development of Dublin. I’m particularly in favour of bringing the Metrolink west from Charlemont to the South Central part of the city: Harold’s Cross, Kimmage, and Terenure. The Dublin Bay South branch of the Social Democrats made that submission to the Metrolink plan. The current plan of putting the Metrolink on the capacity of the existing Green Luas line seems like an imbalanced public transport plan that will have poor development repercussions.

I’m delighted to see more electric buses from Dublin bus, and I want that transformation of the fleet to continue. I’d also like to see more bus frequency on bus corridors.

I’m in favour of the majority of Bus Connects changes, but am also conscious that traffic congestion on roads adjacent to major bus routes will need to be dealt with, in particular with traffic calming and proper planning of park and ride facilities so residential cul de sacs aren’t overloaded with commuter cars as they are now starting to be in areas off Kimmage Road Lower and Rathgar Road.

I also want to see the Dublin Bike Scheme expanded across the city, but in particular west of Portobello as far as Rathmines, Terenure, Crumlin and Drimnagh.

I’d like these things to be funded by drastic increases to parking fees, parking fines, and parking enforcement penalties. The impunity with which some people park their cars in a European capital continues to completely stun me.

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

Summary: Segregated bike lanes; Pedestrianisation of city core; Repaving of footpaths and proper treatment of tree roots; Increased number of safe pedestrian crossings; Expanded Dublin bike scheme; Traffic calming measures.

I want Dublin, and the area stretching from Drimnagh to Dartry that I’m seeking to represent, to have the same quality of life and infrastructure as you’d find in any other European capital city. That’s the standard we should expect and it’s the standard the citizens of Dublin deserve.

I want the type of safe, properly segregated, and well-maintained bike paths they have in Amsterdam here in Dublin. How transformative would that be for the physical and environmental health of our city?

I want pedestrianisation of the core parts of our city to continue, with green spaces and biodiversity cherished in them, so we can have the kinds of public squares people relish in Paris or Berlin.

I want footpaths to be repaved and unwieldy tree roots to be properly managed on them like they are in Madrid. I want our roads properly maintained and resurfaced like they are in Copenhagen. This is a huge accessibility issue across the city.

I will be advocating for the introduction of congestion charges for larger vehicles and for non-resident vehicles, as ratified by the Cabinet recently, like they have in London.

I want proper well-lit pedestrian crossings in high traffic areas, particularly on school routes like near the Harold’s Cross Educate Together, and at major crossings like near the KCR or along Crumlin and Clogher roads. Good zebra crossings, recently authorised for wider rollout, may be a good first step.

I want more traffic calming measures, especially near schools like Harold’s Cross National School in Larkfield, Presentation Primary School in Terenure, or the Marist Primary School on Clogher Road, to be put in place urgently in the interest of school goer safety.

I want green spaces, trees, and flower beds expanded across the city, in particular along places like Stannaway Road in Kimmage, which has some of the lowest density of trees anywhere in Ireland.

I especially want to advocate for an expanded Dublin Bikes scheme as far as Terenure, Rathgar, Crumlin and Kimmage.

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

When public services falter and wealth inequality rises, as they have in Ireland over the last decade, many people become disillusioned with politics and look for others to blame, and minorities are usually the easy groups to pick on. Medium to long-term, the best possible counter to neo-fascism is strong public policy responses to solve the core problems in housing, health, and community development. Short-term, we need more community integration and support mechanisms to ensure integration and to avoid disinformation and segregation.

I utterly condemn neo-fascism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and all criminal acts against any person on the basis of their race, gender, sexuality, national origin, or immigration status. Standing up against the rise of neo-fascism is the biggest reason I entered politics, and I am determined to undermine it, prevent it, and do all I can to counter it through strong progressive public representation and public policy.

Contrary to claims by certain groups, the diversity of our city has improved our society, economy, community and culture. The majority of people who have moved to Dublin are critical for the success of many of our public services and businesses in our healthcare sector, hospitality, tourism, and tech sector.

Why we are seeing unrest: I think it’s worth acknowledging that history has taught us that when public services falter and wealth inequality rises, as they have in Ireland over the last decade, many people become disillusioned with politics and look for others to blame, and minorities are usually the easy groups to pick on.

At its root, the growing popularity of the far right is often accelerated by a breaking of the social contract on things like housing and making people feel left out of the economy or society. The best possible counter to neo-fascism is strong public policy responses to solve the core problems in housing, health, and community development, and that’s why I’m so exasperated by this government’s failings.

What we need to do: I believe that major increases in housing and accommodation building will be required not just to meet housing demand among the current population but also for future population growth which will bring with it many economic, social and cultural benefits. Very practically, at a Dublin City Council level, I would like to see official representation groups formed for people from minority groups across the city - from racial minorities, LGBTQ+ minorities, national origin minorities, and religious minorities - so they can have a voice and an input to the public policies pursued at a local level. I’d like this modelled on the selection processes of the Citizens Assemblies.

I’d also like to see the hiring practices and quotas in Dublin City Council and the Dublin Metropolitan Gardaí result in more diverse and representative staff populations. I’d also like to see the continued and expanded city celebrations of different minority groups in the city such as Lunar New Year and Diwali. By celebrating each other and our diversity, I believe we can better understand one another and ultimately build a better city and country.

International protection: It’s worth emphasising that the government has not lived up to its obligations to those seeking international protection, in particular in shelter and adequate services, and the model has been privatised in a way that’s frankly a repugnant profiting off of the most vulnerable people in our society.

I want to see all migration centres nationalised and brought into public or non-profit ownership. I want adequate standards of care in line with human rights to be implemented at these centres. I want processing times to be reduced through adequate resourcing of the immigration services. And I want the vast majority of people coming to this country through refugee or asylum seeking status to be integrated as soon as possible into our society so that they can live a full life contributing to our communities and our economy.

Immigration - economic or otherwise - in my view is a great opportunity for economic and social revival of our towns and villages. We just have to do it the right way. Doing it the right way also means engaging with communities. And that’s not just consultation processes or public meetings, that is including the community in welcoming new people and building a community support mechanism to ensure integration and to avoid disinformation and segregation.