Ian Croft

Independent candidate for Artane-Whitehall

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

To address the housing shortage, especially for social and affordable housing, I propose several strategic actions:

  • Adopt Proven Models: We need to look at success stories in other cities and implement similar initiatives here. The Vienna Housing model, known for its high-quality, sustainable developments using a cost rental approach, is a prime example. Many residents I’ve spoken to are interested in seeing a similar pilot scheme based on this model in Dublin City. This approach ensures long-term affordability and high living standards.
  • Regulation on Investment Fund purchasing property in bulk: It is essential to prevent investment funds from monopolising housing stock. Instead, I propose allowing companies like Ryanair or multinationals with significant staff needs to convert commercial units into staff accommodation, rather than permitting bulk buying of houses or apartments by such organisations. This strategy can help alleviate pressure on the housing market.
  • Step-Down Housing: The Council should make a bigger effort to provide step-down housing for individuals looking to downsize but wishing to remain in their community. This can be achieved by repurposing many of the vacant properties within the city, thereby freeing up larger homes for families in need.

By implementing these measures, we can create a more balanced and sustainable housing market in Dublin.

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

Improving housing conditions requires a multi-faceted approach:

  • Regular Inspections and Support: Increase the frequency of inspections and provide support services to help tenants report issues and ensure landlords maintain their properties. Enhanced enforcement can ensure compliance with housing standards.
  • Address Antisocial Behaviour: Antisocial behaviour must be taken seriously as it significantly affects the quality of life in council properties. We need stricter enforcement and support systems to address these issues, ensuring that housing is available to those who will maintain it responsibly.
  • Landlord Incentives: Offer financial incentives for landlords who invest in improving their properties. This can include grants or tax breaks for upgrades that enhance living conditions, particularly in older buildings.
  • Centralised Maintenance Platform: I will push for a centralised platform to manage maintenance issues in social housing. Many residents have expressed frustration with the long wait times for repairs. A centralised system can streamline requests and improve response times.
  • Increase Refuge Spaces: Dublin City Council needs to drastically increase the number of refuge spaces for victims of domestic violence. The lack of adequate refuge spaces forces many victims to endure terrible living conditions or stay in unsafe environments. Poor living conditions are often more profound than just the physical state of housing; they impact overall wellbeing.

These initiatives can significantly improve living conditions for all residents, ensuring safe, healthy, and dignified housing.

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

Improving city cleanliness involves several key actions:

  • Community Engagement: Having worked closely with the local Tidy Towns for the past four years and liaising with business owners, I plan to continue this collaboration if elected. Promoting a cleaner city through greater cohesion and collaboration with local groups and businesses is essential.
  • Improved Waste Services: I support the municipalisation of waste services in Dublin City, aiming for more frequent collections on main thoroughfares to reduce the amount of bagged commercial waste left on streets. Long-term, I advocate for the use of underground bin stores to keep footpaths clear.
  • Engage the Unemployed: I propose incentivizing long-term unemployed individuals to participate in city cleanliness efforts. This initiative not only improves the city but also helps marginalised individuals gain meaningful engagement and support.
  • Enhanced Bin Services: More regular emptying of public litter bins and increasing their capacity where footfall is higher is crucial. Overflowing bins are a common sight in our city and this need to be addressed urgently.
  • Green bus stop roofs and pocket parks: Improving biodiversity and greening some additional parts of the city will not only enhance public spaces, but will also improve air quality and promote biodiversity.
  • Public Education and Enforcement: Launch public awareness campaigns on proper waste disposal and enforce fines for littering and not picking up after pets. I’ve already initiated discussions with transition year students about environmental issues, which I plan to continue if elected.

These steps can significantly enhance the cleanliness and appeal of our city.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

Tackling vacancy and dereliction requires a strategic approach:

  • Repurpose Vacant Properties: Identify and repurpose vacant properties for housing or community use. For example, the Savonnerie Heymans project in Brussels transformed a disused soap factory into sustainable housing, demonstrating the potential for adaptive reuse.
  • Tax Incentives and Penalties: Implement tax incentives for rehabilitating vacant buildings and increase penalties for owners who allow properties to remain derelict. This can motivate property owners to either develop or sell underutilized properties.

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

Improving safety in the city involves multiple strategies:

  • Increased Garda Presence: A greater Garda presence and a focused effort on tackling antisocial behaviour are essential. We also need tougher sentencing and adequate prison capacity to deter criminal behaviour. However, we also need to improve rehabilitation programs in prisons to educate and support offenders, with a view to reducing the level of reoffending.
  • Paid Garda Reserves: Consider paying Garda reserves and utilise them to support day-to-day policing. This can provide additional manpower without overburdening the existing force.
  • Community Engagement: Promote community policing initiatives, increase CCTV coverage in hotspots, and improve street lighting to deter criminal activities.
  • Create third spaces for young people: We need to have safe places where young people can relax and connect with others so they don’t feel the only place they can go are antisocial spots where people may feel intimidated or threatened.

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

Enhancing public transport involves several key actions:

  • Expand and Modernise Services: With current technology, public transport systems should be reliable and efficient. We need a smart system that provides real-time updates and addresses the issue of buses appearing on digital displays but not showing up.
  • Address Overcapacity: Councillors should liaise with Dublin Bus to address buses operating beyond capacity during peak times. A reliable bus service is crucial for commuters and people should not be left out in the cold waiting for a bus that never appears, or when it does appear, it has no room!
  • Affordability and Accessibility: Ensure public transport is affordable and accessible, particularly in underserved areas, through subsidies or fare adjustments.

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

Improving pedestrian and cyclist safety involves:

  • Dedicated Pathways: Develop and maintain dedicated bike lanes and pedestrian pathways that are safe and separated from vehicle traffic. Cycle routes should be pragmatic and cater to actual usage patterns instead of putting cycle lanes everywhere, resulting in expenditure on cycle lanes where there is no significant demand.
  • Mandatory Bike Bells: Make bike bells mandatory to enhance safety on shared paths. Better regulation of e-scooters is also necessary to ensure safety for all users.
  • Traffic Calming Measures: Implement traffic calming measures and incentivize carpooling to reduce congestion and improve safety.

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

Countering hate and promoting inclusivity requires a comprehensive and balanced approach:

  • Education Campaigns to Promote Understanding and Tolerance: Launch educational initiatives that highlight the positive contributions of diverse groups, including immigrants and the LGBTQ+ community. Increase international and cultural events in Dublin to showcase the city's diversity, fostering mutual respect and understanding.
  • Appropriate Resource Allocation to Prioritise Residents' Needs: Ensure that the needs of current residents are met first by allocating sufficient resources for housing, healthcare, and education. Recognise that resource shortages are a concern and advocate for appropriate measures to manage any influx of newcomers to prevent further strain on essential services.
  • Equitable Distribution: Implement balanced policies that ensure newcomers also receive support without detracting from existing residents' resources. This includes more careful planning and adequate funding to address the increased demand.
  • Integration Programs and Comprehensive Support Initiatives: Establish structured, government-supported programs that provide comprehensive support for asylum seekers, immigrants, and the LGBTQ+ community. Ensure access to necessary services such as language courses, job training, and legal assistance to facilitate successful integration.
  • Community Involvement: Encourage initiatives like Tidy Towns while emphasising the need for structured programs that do not rely solely on volunteers. Foster integration and community support through both government and community-led efforts.
  • Support Services for Victims and Legal Measures: Provide robust support services for victims of hate crimes, including legal aid, counselling, and protection. Ensure victims and survivors have access to the necessary resources for their safety and well-being.
  • Strict Penalties and Rehabilitation: Enforce strict penalties against perpetrators of hate crimes while offering educational and rehabilitation programs to reduce reoffenses. This dual approach ensures justice and promotes long-term behavioral change.

By implementing these strategies, we can create a more inclusive, safe, and supportive environment for all residents of Dublin. This approach addresses both immediate needs and long-term integration goals while respecting the valid concerns of our community.