James Morris

Aontú candidate for Clontarf

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

The Clontarf local election area is quite densely populated in terms of the foot print of existing housing estates, any available large open spaces are now valuable parkland such as St. Anne's Park, sports pitches, golf clubs and the Bull Island. These amazing facilities are what makes it so great to live in the area and some are protected biospheres for wildlife. That being said, we are now in a national housing crisis, so everything needs to be looked at. If elected to Dublin City Council (DCC), I will look to fast track smaller housing developments on smaller sites such as side gardens of existing properties and redevelopments on existing sites. DCC has higher vacancy rates than other local authorities, this needs to be corrected. The current turnaround time from vacancy to occupied is 8 months, this is far too long and will be a priority if elected. High property prices and rents are subject to basic laws of economics, namely supply and demand, so we should be aware of the drivers of both. Marino estate is in the south west of this constituency and was built in the 1920's - it is now a fantastic example of what is possible to achieve in terms of social and affordable housing. We were able to build this social housing estate in Ireland in the 1920's after the 1916 rising, and war of independence when we had very limited resources available. Yet now in 2024, when our GDP is the envy of the world, government cant meet even their own modest building targets. The state now needs to use its resources to borrow on capital markets at low interest rates, to build large scale public housing projects on public land it already owns. It shouldn't be complicated, and is an investment in our future. We used to consistently build a lot of social and affordable housing for people of all different socioeconomic backgrounds to find shelter in, and so we never experienced the record levels of homelessness we are seeing now under this government. Aontu oppose the creation of Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT's) and other legislation brought in by FG and FF to allow vulture funds to operate here. This created the opportunity for investment funds to bulk buy entire housing estates and then rent them back to us, tax efficiently. We will look to end this unfair advantage. See more here; https://aontu.ie/housing-crisis

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

While canvassing several Dublin City Council (DCC) properties over the last few months, people have raised with me issues such as the prevalence of black mould etc, which is dangerous to human health. This is not be acceptable, and if elected I will ensure that minimum safety standards advised by the Residential Tenancies Board are fully enforced in DCC properties, which should be maintained to a high standard. Maybe a BER-style safety certificate for human habitation could be implemented.

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

We need to have more litter bins all around the city and suburbs so people can dispose of their rubbish properly instead of littering. I am thinking especially in St. Anne's park, and along the seafront in Clontarf where I have often walked in summer and been shocked by the levels of waste and over flowing bins. Dog poo bags should be made freely available by the Council in all of our parks, along with increased dog wardens to enforce it. ONLY ONE FINE for dog fouling has been paid in Dublin city in the past four years – and it was cancelled on appeal. Figures released by Dublin City Council show just eight fines were issued between 2019 and 2023.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

One thing that has become apparent to me while canvassing and out walking the streets of the Clontarf LEA, is just how many vacant properties there are in some places. Many are vacant for a variety of reasons such as death and probate etc., but where sites are vacant long term, say beyond two years, then we should look to bring in a vacant property tax that gradually increases over time to incentivise the use of the property and DCC could ultimately reserve the ability to CPO the property where there is no communication or efforts made to bring it back into use over say a 10 year period.

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

I pledge to work with local Gardai to ensure our areas have regular patrols on our the streets to act as a deterrent. Gardaí should be empowered to do their job and be not be in fear of a GSOC inquiry for simply pursuing criminals in the line of duty. Prison sentences should be increased for violent offenders, and personally I would like to see a 3 strike policy implemented in Ireland which means automatic custodial sentencing after 3 convictions. We have far too many repeat offenders, some with hundreds of convictions. Of course, this needs prison space, and Thornton Hall needs to returned for use as its intended purpose as a new prison.

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

We need a lot more buses operating during peak times and smarter use of existing interconnected bus routes. I would like to introduce a direct bus route from Portmarnock, Howth, to East Point business park and into the city center which could take a lot of cars out of the traffic jam along Clontarf Road each morning. We have 130 brand new electric buses lying idle across Dublin due to lack of planning permission for the charging points. That is crazy.

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

I am a pedestrian, a cyclist and a motorist, so I can see all sides of this debate here. Generally, I accept that more protected cycle lanes around the city are a good thing from a safety and environmental perspective, but I think that all road users need to be considered as not everyone can cycle. Where such infrastructure schemes are undertaken, they should be built as quickly as possible. The "Clontarf to City Centre" (C2CC) project may be nice when it is finished, but has been a bit of a disaster so far, now in its third year, it has created traffic chaos across a lot of this area with people stuck in long tail backs, emitting more carbon emissions as they are now taking longer journeys on alternate routes as the north strand is no longer in use for private cars, will they be offered a refund on their motor tax? We need to also think of the elderly, the infirm, the blind etc, not everyone can cycle, particularly in the depths of winter in Ireland. Cyclists should also not break red lights and need to have equal regard for others. It seems to 2 wheels good, 4 wheels bad these days. The law has also recently changed regarding E-scooters and they should not be used on paths or by those under 16.

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

The best way to counter the rise of the far right is to run local and national government schemes openly and fairly where the public is kept informed and onside, where resources are shared fairly. Also, "far right" is a descriptive position of relativity to something else, that may give rise to the next question, to the right of what? What does it mean? Does it mean being opposed to the "far left"? It's too simplistic a line that shuts down debate on many legitimate areas of concern in public and political life. For example, it is now clear that this government has lost control of immigration as the Department of Integration is no longer able to offer accommodation to everyone arriving and is instead providing tents one day, and taking them away the next. Is it "far-right" to notice this, or speak about it? We should always oppose any forms of extremism and hatred or persecution of anyone in society regardless of their immigration status, sexual orientation etc. We are all equal before the laws of this land, and I believe is adequately covered under the existing Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act rather than needing further "hate speech" legislation to police our thoughts and words. When people have differences of opinion of matters of policy, this should always be settled through open respectful debate, where free speech is upheld and respected. Arson is highly dangerous and illegal, anyone caught engaging in such behavior should be punished to the full extent under law.