Ian Carey

Green Party candidate for Swords

How would you help get more housing built in Fingal?

The approach to housing has changed a lot in Fingal in the last five years. The council are now purchasing sites and building. A good example of this is the land in the Mooretown area off the Rathbeale Road, in Swords. The council bought the land and within 12 months had a design in place for delivering homes. These lands have sat there undeveloped despite being earmarked for development 15 years before. I strongly support the council doing this and providing social, affordable, cost-rental, and private purchase properties in a mixed-tenure approach for all large developments.

I also support the council’s efforts to build out sites within the existing footprint of the town. This is essential for people looking to downsize and to place new residents near amenities.

I firmly support the Green Party's policy for public housing on public land, particularly the Cost Rental model (aka the Vienna Model) – this means constructing affordable rental properties on public land, and only charging the cost of construction (removing the profit motive and lowering rents), which ensures affordability and stability for our residents. We must avail of every opportunity to develop social and public housing on publicly owned land.

As a party, we have also supported the introduction of a scheme to repurpose space above shops for residential use, a measure that could invigorate commercial districts while easing our housing shortage – we are making this a reality through the existing Croí Connaithe Scheme.

Embracing the Cost Rental model and reinforcing investment in the Housing First programme, will help our most vulnerable receive the support they need. In addition, I will work to allocate additional resources to our council teams tasked with identifying and reclaiming vacant or derelict properties.

I will work towards a housing strategy that meets the needs of all.

What would you do to help make sure adequate amenities and services would be added along with any new housing built?

One key approach I will be looking to in the next term is where development levies are being spent. (Assuming the waiver doesn’t continue.)

To put it simply, the money from developments should first go to filling the infrastructure gaps in the areas where the new development is. This is crucial for Swords because we are taking a significant number of new homes, compared to other areas.

With the lands to the north of Swords due for development in the next decade, this is all the more important. Swords needs a significant increase in sporting infrastructure including a new municipal sports hub, including a sports stadium, indoor court facilities and a public swimming pool. Much smaller towns boast such facilities.

We need to make sure that money follows the people, in Fingal and nationally. This principal should apply in other areas too – particularly healthcare, transport, and policing. I want to see our healthcare, transport, and policing strategies prepare for the forecasted populations in the Swords area.

There have been some positive developments in healthcare, but the future population demands greater levels of services. In policing, the future is clearly to have Swords as the centre of its own district and we need to see garda numbers increase in Swords and stay there.

In transport, we really need the Metrolink project to progress at pace, but we also need to prioritise more direct commuter services, increase the use of the port tunnel for public transport, and develop a local bus that can serve the area once the Metrolink is operational.

In addition, I support a rounded approach to improving housing conditions, recognising the importance of broader civic amenities. Investing in parks and playgrounds not only enhances quality of life but also promotes community cohesion. Particularly in densely populated areas lacking private gardens, these shared green spaces are invaluable for families, as highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

My vision for Fingal encompasses not only the enhancement of individual dwellings but also the creation of thriving, inclusive neighbourhoods where every resident can enjoy a safe, comfortable home life.

What are your views are on Dublin Airport’s current operations and its proposed expansion?

Dublin Airport is a massive employer and economic generator for Fingal, but the planned expansion is a threat to our climate, our health, and our economy. The level of expansion will massively grow emissions in an already high emission sector. It is way outside the Paris Agreement and would make Ireland highly vulnerable to policy changes to tackle climate change. To expand air travel will create sectors that are highly vulnerable to the reduction in emissions needed to meet the Paris Agreement. This is fundamentally unsustainable and risks pushing the airport, and the country, into a boom-and-bust cycle.

Any expansion also exposes communities to harmful noise. There is growing evidence that aircraft noise has serious health effects, including increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Overall, we need an aviation strategy that focuses on preserving jobs and economic activity as the sector is brought in line with the Paris Agreement, just like every other sector in the economy. How can we ask farmers to make such radical changes while allowing aviation a free pass? Far from being a burden on the economy it will create resilience in sectors such as FDI and tourism to the benefit of the country in the longer term.

In relation to the current flight paths, it’s clear the DAA are in breach of the planning permission. They are flying over communities that were never supposed to be affected. It is a disgrace and a national scandal, and I hope the courts rule clearly in favour of the community.

I don’t believe night flights should happen, except for emergencies and a small number of exceptions. Other jurisdictions have shown it’s possible and the increase in night flights in Dublin is directly related to restrictions in other airports. The health of people in Dublin is just as important as people in London or Frankfurt.

When it comes to protecting communities from noise the airport needs to implement a policy of preventing preventable pollution. If mitigation measures can reduce noise they should be implemented. The cost effectiveness argument needs to be weighed against the massive profits the DAA generate, which stand at over €100m per annum.

We need sound barriers built at the blast pad of the north runway to protect families in South Swords, we need to use the north and south runways for take-off to reduce the noise contours and provide respite, we need noise abatement procedures used by pilots to get planes higher faster and reduce noise on the ground, we need a community-led plan for those areas most badly impacted by noise so they can have somewhere their communities can locate and grown into the future, and we need to be implementing all this now.

What needs to be done to improve public transport in Fingal?

We need to continue to invest heavily in public transport in the Swords area and nationally.

While councillors do not have direct control over transport, I will advocate for increases in direct commuter connections to the city (41X), the increased use of the port tunnel by bus services, and the continued progress of the Metrolink.

The length of time we have been waiting for the Metrolink is a bad joke. No one in Swords has any faith left in it being delivered. The only way to change that is to see shovels in the ground and building commence. I hope we an get there in the next 12 months.

The Greens nationally have made public transport a priority and funded major projects everywhere, while cutting fares by 20% for adults and 60% for young people. Public transport use grew by 25% last year alone, which shows the value of investment.

Councillors don’t control this directly, but what we do have some say over is the allocation of road space. We need to dedicate more road space to bus lanes - it isn’t right that a bus with 60 people is stuck in traffic behind a car with just one person. We need to elect councillors who will stand up to extreme pressure from the motoring lobby. We need to work productively with the NTA and other bodies who are leading on the delivery to ensure the projects are of maximum benefit to the community. Where there are issues, I will work closely with communities to highlight local concerns and push for improvements in safety for people walking and cycling, greening for the area and traffic calming.

We need to see public transport improvements delivered quickly so that we can benefit from more frequent, reliable services. I would strongly support the council using cameras to detect red light breakers and illegal bus lane users, to make public transport flow more smoothly. This sort of work would also work best with improved provision of disabled parking spaces and commercial loading bays.

Improved accessibility of our buses and trains is also key, so that public transport can be an option for everyone, especially older people, people with disabilities, and those travelling with children in buggies. It is particularly important to have winter maintenance plans in place so that we can prioritise the movement of public transport during extreme weather events rather than focusing on the movement of private cars.

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

Swords still has a long way to go before it is a walking and cycling friendly town. We have some bike lanes in Brackenstown and Rivervalley, but they need to be connected before we have the ‘network effect’ and cycling can really take off.

The key arteries into the town, the Rathbeale Rd, Forest Rd, Malahide Rd, Glen Ellen Rd, and Watery Lane, all need to be made safe for walking and cycling.

I also support the creation of greenways through open space in the town. Two areas will be critical for this – the Ward River Valley and the open space that connects Pinegrove to Castlegrange. The plans for the Ward River Valley Regional Park include an East West greenway connecting to estates along the valley as well as a walking and cycling bridge connecting Brackenstown and Rivervalley. This is something I pushed for and I think would really transform the town. The connection between Pinegrove and Balheary, along the ‘old road’, would connect schools, JCs, Fingallians, Columcilles GAA, as well as the skate park. This would also be relatively simple to deliver and would have such a positive impact.

I support plans to lower speed limits in our towns and cities to protect motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and reduce crashes. I will push for infrastructural improvements to tackle speeding and ensure that roads are designed to prioritise road safety, particularly that of children and other vulnerable road users.

I will also champion the introduction of annual car-free days in specific areas, to enable local markets and festivals, supporting communities that want car-free neighbourhoods.

What should be done to make the roads safer for all road users?

Segregated bike lanes will increase cyclist safety and lower the number of accidents on the road. This should be done as part of a network, not just small bits of unconnected lanes, and be safe enough for everyone from young children to pensioners to be able to use with confidence. That’s especially important near schools.

I will push for infrastructural improvements to tackle speeding and ensure that roads are designed to prioritise road safety, particularly that of children and other vulnerable road users.

I will support “bike parks”, converting a small area in a car park for free, secure bike parking, particularly near transport hubs, as well as “Bike Bunkers” and look forward to supporting residents in getting them installed on their streets over the next few years.

We also need to have pedestrian priority built into minor junctions, to provide for pedestrian priority, alongside safer crossing points. That, combined with improved and widened footpaths would really improve things for pedestrians - particularly those who need extra time or space. We need to ensure that temporary works do not cut off access to cycleways and footpaths. I will also push for lighting that is “human scale” directed at footpaths instead of towards carriageways, often leaving our paths in near darkness. Benches are also key to ensure that people who are walking can get a rest.

How would you help create more natural green spaces and promote biodiversity in Fingal?

The Fingal Biodiversity Action Plan is one of the most ambitious plans for restoring nature of any local authority. Originally the plan was only part funded, I, along with colleagues, pushed for the plan to be fully funded and we were successful in persuading the executive to put significant funds behind it. This had a big impact on Swords as actions in the Ward River Valley and the Broadmeadow Estuary were now included. For this term I want to see this plan become a reality. Many of the key measures will be carried out over the next five years and I think it is critical that Green councillors are there to help make it happen.

The Green Party has hugely increased the funding of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and ensured the funding for the appointment of bioversity officers in every Local Authority – we want to make their work as success and support their efforts as they work to reintroduce a biodiversity positive approach throughout the work of Fingal County Council.

We need to reverse some of the damage that has been done and there are fantastic community groups all over the county doing great work on the ground and a huge interest in improving and protecting nature – the Greens are keen to support them wherever we can, politically, financially and practically.

How would you help get more parks and sports facilities built in Fingal?

To ensure sufficient facilities are provided for to a growing population it needs to be built into our planning system. Sites and locations must be identified prior to any building being undertaken. I believe that this has been improved upon in the last development plan, but we have a lot to catch up on.

One major issue for me is that lack of a public swimming pool in Swords and the overreliance on private sports clubs to teach children to swim. Parents are currently driving great distances and at huge inconvenience to access a swimming pool. I believe all children in urban areas should have access to a public pool by foot or on public transport.

All towns should have easy access to open spaces where people and children can be in nature. Access to nature is essential for both physical and mental health. We are lucky in Fingal to have so many beautiful parks and beaches, but we need to ensure all our citizens have better access to them and ensure they are open at times when they can be appreciated.