Jesslyn Henry

Social Democrats candidate for Artane-Whitehall

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

With over 13,000 people now registered homeless, it is more important than ever to have a Housing Policy which will eradicate homelessness, address the number of adults living in their childhood bedrooms and make our city a more inclusive place to live. The building of social and affordable homes is a necessity and if elected I will make this a priority at local level. The lack of housing in our communities is increasing trauma in our children and young people, many of which are growing up in inappropriate hotel rooms. This puts an additional strain on our ineffective mental health supports and causes division across our city. Dublin City Council must build homes that are safe, affordable and fitting for the growing needs of our increasing population.

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

Housing standards are agreed at a national level and so local government don’t have much power in this however, by working with community groups to support renters, sharing knowledge of grants available for retrofitting and solar panels etc as well as advocating for those who cannot afford such works can improve and empower those in both social and privately rented homes.

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

I would advocate for more funding and resources to be put into the public domain teams. Cleaning of the city centre is a priority for Dublin City Council but local communities outside of the city need serious attention. Tidy town and community groups across the suburbs have taken up the task of tackling the rubbish and dog fouling in their areas but this is not enough.

Many established and aging communities do not have the resources to tackle this and must be addressed. Dog fouling is an issue for everyone but especially those who are wheelchair users. A city wide campaign and proper incentives for dog owners to pick up after their dogs is a necessity.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

The Dail needs to support the Social Democrats proposal on Vacancy Tax. We need a vacancy tax which will deter owners to leave properties vacant and derelict and one which can be enforced easily. Vacant commercial properties should be given back to the community in order to build much needed community spaces.

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

Everyone agrees that we need an increase in Gardai on our streets. This however is not the only thing needed to make our city feel safe. Adequate lighting, a more pedestrianised city and an increase in public transport would make our city feel safer.

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

I don’t drive or cycle so depend on public transport as do so many across the city. We need more 24 hour public transport, to battle anti-social behaviour and less ghost busses (those busses that don’t turn up as advertised). Unfortunately though, the power lies with the National Transport Agency.

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

Funding needs to go into fixing footpaths and making our city not only more pedestrian friendly but accessible for people with disabilities. An increased Garda presence will assist us in making the city feel safer and reduce anti-social behaviour. Increased safe, secure bike parking is also a necessity in making our city a nicer place to be.

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

I think we need to be careful when using the term “Far-Right”, this along with the criminal element absolutely exists but it is ordinary working class people who are struggling due to the cost of living, housing and health care crisis who are coming to the streets to protest against immigration. To address this, we need to have better consultation with the communities affected, adequately resource these communities and address the needs of these communities which have been ignored for far too long.

If we can access housing, healthcare and community facilities we are much less likely to see communities coming out in their hundreds to protest against helping those in need. The far-right are playing on the fears and concerns of these communities and so work is needed to empower and engage the communities.