Jeanette Birch

Independent candidate for South East Inner City

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

Firstly, pin-point all appropriate sites which could and should be used to build both social and affordable housing.

I would then insist that Dublin City Council uses the emergency powers granted to them by the current government, known as the "Planning and Development and Foreshore (Amendment) Act, 2022", which bypasses lengthy, difficult and counter-productive planning permission. I will insist this be done as a matter of urgency. We have plenty of grounds that can, should and will be used to house our citizens. There is absolutely no need for the housing crisis to continue with these laws and emergency powers in place. 

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

Both the council, Approved Housing Bodies and private sector landlords should be subjected to hefty fines for failure to comply with the "minimum accommodations standard". I know of many cases in which tenants, particularly in the private rental sector, feel completely and utterly trapped due to the housing crisis. This leaves them in a position whereby they cannot report the horrific conditions of their homes due to a legitimate fear of the landlord selling the property instead of fixing the issues.

However, we need to give our small landlords a better deal too, in order to prevent them from leaving the market. Vulture funds are taking over the private rental sector and not paying their share of taxes. Funding needs to be provided to our small landlords who have done everything by the book, yet cannot afford to bring their properties up to standard. Councils and AHB's should be given large fines for every property they have failed to act upon. 

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

We need more public bins on every street to start with. I see the council ensures areas like Stephen's Green, Grafton Street, O'Connell Street (our biggest tourist areas) have dozens upon dozens of public bins on these streets. However, it seems like they're forgetting that the majority of us do not live on or frequent these areas. All of Dublin's inner city should be thought of and seen to.

As a qualified dog groomer, dog trainer and animal welfare advocate, dog feces being left on the ground is absolutely deplorable. Not only is it a serious health hazard for young children, but can be lethal to unborn babies too. Free dog waste bags should be provided in all areas, and heftier fines should be introduced to both deter dog owners from such irresponsibility AND to pay for our council workers who have to clean the streets. More public bins in all of the inner city areas would help this issue too. 

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

I think there should be a greater definition of "vacancy" and "abandonment" when it comes to property. Properties that have been abandoned need to be turned over to the council and distributed as private housing, social housing and affordable housing. A vacant home that is still owned by a private individual should not be touched, as they may be keeping the property for a family member, friend, or perhaps even for themselves. We cannot infringe upon private property owners' rights, and if they do not wish to let their property out or sell it, that is their right. A property that is vacant, yet well maintained, should be left well alone.

However, abandoned properties, which would be defined as a property in which the owner cannot be found **and/or **in which the property has been lying idle and in disrepair for a decade or more, should be turned over to the local council in order to house more of our Irish citizens. 

There are too many of our people living in properties, whether it be private rented accommodation or social housing, that are an absolute health and safety hazard. The council has the power to fix and repair both rented and social housing, we need to enforce that immediately. Someone is going to get seriously hurt if we do not do this as a matter of urgency. More regeneration programs are needed to fix up many social housing properties within the DCC area, and again, this is imperative. 

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

We need more mental health resources. We need more harm reduction services. Alcoholism, drug addiction and ill mental health rates are higher than they have ever been, particularly in disadvantaged areas. We need more pilot schemes set up by the HSE in order to give as much help to those who are suffering, and to those who may be a danger to others. We also need a system whereby the Sex Offender's Registry is made public. We need to know who is living in our area, who is likely to be a danger to our women and our children, and we need to ensure that nobody with such an abhorrent criminal history is living or lurking in our communities. 

We also need to tackle gangs loitering around the likes of Talbot and Moore Street. As a mother of two young children, I am heartbroken to see both of these areas become so run-down and intimidating. I used to frequent Moore Street when I was younger and I loved the sense of safety and security back then. Now, I stay away as much as I possibly can. The only way to tackle this issue is through Án Garda Síochána using the Public Order Act to move on anyone who is continuously loitering in these areas for no good reason. 

Although many are opposed to "safe usage sites" when it comes to drugs, as someone who has immense experience when it comes to substance abuse, addiction and recovery, this is something that needs to be looked at immediately. I will look at appropriate sites in which this can be facilitated, which would include keeping them away from schools, playgrounds; anywhere where children would frequent should not be within the vicinity of safe usage sites. 

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

I use public transport daily, and I find our services quite good when travelling within the city itself. However, many buses outside the inner city are diabolical. The fact is that public transport is privately owned, owned by companies based in both Ireland and the UK who rake in extortionate profits every year yet cannot seem to ensure a bus shows up on time. Liaising with these companies and using fines as a deterrent is the best way forward. It seems to affect particular bus routes as well, so figuring out which services are leaving commuters stranded is key, and following on from there with communication and fines if the issues continue. 

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

I walk the city centre daily and I find it mostly pleasant to do so, however I have noticed the amount of litter, broken glass and dog feces around the inner city. An incentive to stop people from smashing glass bottles onto our streets would be to offer a justifiable amount of money per glass bottle in exchange for bringing them to a recycling centre - something similar to the Deposit Return Scheme, just without the deposit itself. I have outlined above my plan to tackle dog feces, and also to tackle litter - by installing more bins and providing free dog waste bags for all owners. Those who refuse to use these bags must be subjected to fines for failing to take their responsibilities as both a dog owner and a member of the community seriously.

Bicycle users, including e-bikes and e-scooters have dedicated lanes on most roads which ensures their safety; however many of us have noticed that many of them do need to learn the rules of the road. I have spoken to many people within the community who find that cyclists and those using the electric bikes and scooters have put them in danger by failing to adhere to something as simple as a red traffic light. A free course in using the road safely, to which a license or certification is issued on completion, would help both pedestrians and cyclists keep each other safe. I'm also concerned about the fact that the electric bikes and scooters can reach speeds that are far beyond that of the speed limit, and should they cause an accident there is no insurance there to facilitate any injuries that may occur. A fair and reasonable insurance fee should be introduced, along with a course in road 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?

The definition of "far right" falls under fascism and neo-Nazism. I have yet to meet, see or hear of the Irish version of Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler or Francisco Franco. I can say with absolute certainty that there is not a single Irish citizen advocating for a genocidal mass murder based on people's nationality, religious beliefs or skin colour. However, there is a more recent definition of "far right". It is a term coined by the mainstream media, who use this to libel anyone who goes against the mainstream narrative. Climate hysteria has gone too far and is directly impacting every single one of us, but most importantly it is affecting our farmers. No farmers means that we have no food. Ireland is more than capable of sustaining ourselves without the need to import any food items from overseas. Our farmers need our support and we must stand with them. Calling our people "far-right" over their concerns about mass immigration, their concerns for our children's future; that is not abhorrent and despicable on the media's behalf. That is a legitimate concern for Irish citizens to have, and as all of our services are on the verge of imploding, I can completely understand and support these concerns. 

The "anti-immigration" rhetoric is false. 99.999% Irish citizens are not against immigration. We want and need people coming here for genuine reasons. People who love our country, people who want to contribute to our culture, people who want to share their skills and talents with Ireland. What concerns our own people is that we have been lied to by our current government in respect to who would be claiming asylum here. We were informed that women, mothers and children were coming here from war-torn countries, and yet we have masses of men coming here that we know nothing about. Throwing away passports, ID documents, that is not good enough. We have a disgraceful deportation system that needs changing immediately. Self-deportation is a farce, as is having Ireland as a free-for-all. "One rule for thee, but not for me" springs to mind with regards to people travelling into Ireland and claiming they have no documentation. Coming here to work, coming here to have a better life by means of working, sustaining your own means, embracing Irish culture and loving our country; that is a truly beautiful thing. Coming here after claiming asylum in another EU country must be stopped. We cannot sustain this level of immigration, and we have gone above and beyond already to help those who have already come here. With 15,000 Irish citizens homeless - which includes over 4,000 children; with our healthcare system falling apart at the seams; with our schools overflowing and unable to cater to children with additional needs; with a housing crisis that keeps getting worse by the day; we need to fix these problems and ensure our borders are safe and secured. Ireland has done more than enough, now it's time to focus on our country and stop trying to run before we can even walk. We're on the brink of a serious recession, we have to stop NOW before anything else goes wrong in our communities.

Anti-LBGTQ+ hate is appalling. I look at the recent murders in Sligo, which took the lives of Aiden Moffitt and Michael Snee. There are reports that other people within the killer's circle knew what he was planning. In this case, which I believe is one of the top three most violent, sickening murders this country has ever seen, we could have stopped it and we didn't. That responsibility falls on the Gardaí and accountability is lacking there. We need to ensure that anybody planning to kill those simply because they are gay receive harsh sentences, or if they're not from Ireland we must look at deporting them immediately to keep our citizens safe.

I would imagine that these questions were not asked because of the likes of the case above. I have a feeling this has been asked regarding the recent rise of the transgender ideologies. Nobody minds what anyone else does with their life, it's YOUR life and you have the right to live it whatever way you see fit. However, you must keep the children out of it to preserve their innocence. You must also respect that those who are not members of the LGBTQ community are entitled to live their lives too. So the solution is simple: You live your life, and you let me live mine. You let me determine what is appropriate for my children to be exposed to, and you let every parent determine that. No judgement either way. Live and let live.

ALL arson is WRONG. A quick solution regarding "anti-immigrant arson" would be to stop building IPAS centres and focus on building homes for Irish citizens. Ireland has done enough. We've extended our generous hands as always, however our systems are bursting at the seams and we cannot do it any longer. That is not something we can ignore; we have too many bio-psychosocial issues, too many economical issues, and too many crises. CLOSE THE BORDER BY OPTING OUT OF THE EU MIGRATION AND ASYLUM PACT UNDER PROTOCOL 21 OF THE LISBON TREATY.