John Burtchaell

People Before Profit-Solidarity candidate for Blanchardstown-Mulhuddart

How would you help get more housing built in Fingal?

The provision of housing for purchase & rent needs to be taken out of the hands of commercial entities where profit is the main driver. Instead a state construction utility should be established to build tens of thousands of social & genuinely affordable homes across Fingal (and the other counties) on publicly owned land where possible and CPO additional sites where necessary. In parallel there are around 166,000 empty properties lying idle around the country as the housing crisis rages which is completely unacceptable.

We wouldn’t allow speculators to hoard food while people starved. These empty homes need to be taken into the ownership of the councils using all available means and used to accommodate families on the housing lists as well as the people seeking asylum in Ireland. We have the resources to provide everyone with a secure and affordable home and it’s an ideological choice to impose housing misery on the many to enrich a small few.

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

Again we should use a public construction utility to build the schools, community centres, sports facilities, shops etc that our communities need. Commercial entities have failed badly in this regard as we see with the current National Children’s hospital debacle and the dozens of newly built schools which had extremely dangerous defects requiring major remediation over the last decade.

We can do much better than this. For example each new community should have its own primary care medical centre staffed with HSE employed GPs and other medical workers to meet the needs of the local population.

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

The DAA are currently in breach of their existing planning conditions and I’ve been working with residents groups on a long running campaign to hold them to account over the past number of years. Neither should the airport be expanding. In the context of the climate crisis, Dublin and all other airports in Europe and world wide should be reducing the numbers of flights. Workers' livelihoods also need to be protected.

So the state/EU needs to intervene to develop environmentally sustainable industries in energy provision, transport etc where airline and other workers can be employed in quality jobs instead.

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

Public transport like healthcare, water, waste disposal etc. should be provided free of charge at the point of use as collective societal functions. Public transport systems also need to be massively expanded and improved to make them more attractive than car travel. So for example a couple of years back we developed the outline of a plan and ran a campaign proposing to extend the Luas line from Broombridge to Blanchardstown shopping centre which received a lot of local support.

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

We should be designing our communities and economy so that as many people as possible can walk or cycle (and/or take a quick trip on public transport) to school, college, work, shops, amenities etc.

People don’t like taking long commutes in their cars but often don’t have much choice. Local council initiatives like improving and expanding cycle lanes and the Safer Routes to School program are welcome and we also need to plan at a macro level to build sustainable communities and workplaces where daily mass commutes become unnecessary.

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

Encouraging people out of their cars an onto public transport or to walk & cycle with the measures proposed above will naturally make our roads safer. The approach to speeding enforcement also needs to change from a quantitative to a qualitative one. So for example we often see speed camera vans located on relatively safe stretches of road but at spots where many motorists are caught exceeding the limit while more dangerous sections of roadway are unmonitored.

The most important metric is reducing the numbers of death & injuries on our roads and this is how enforcement effectiveness should be strictly measured.

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

Fingal has an ambitious Biodiversity plan from 2023 to 30. But to really reverse the decline we need the EU to implement a macro plan for biodiversity, rewilding and agriculture. So for example small farming families and agricultural workers could be paid a genuine living wage by the state/E.U. in return for working the land in a managed and environmentally sustainable manner.

This would allow governments and the E.U. to plan and allocate large scale land usage to meet our needs in food, forestry, rewilding, recreation, habitat preservation etc. while providing vital jobs for rural communities. The same approach could be taken for our marine ecosystem and fishing communities.

On a positive note I have seen a small family of otters in the Tolka around Mulhuddart on a few occasions so we so have some great biodiversity locally to preserve and expand.

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

I would say that we’re pretty well served with the existing park areas at least in Dublin 15 but the maintenance and care of those parks is lacking. So for example local residents around the Tolka Valley park are forced to undertake major clean-ups on a weekly basis in order to maintain the park in a reasonable condition.

This work and the prevention of dumping etc. should be done by council workers and Fingal and the government should be making the resources available to the councils to do so. There is a tendency to push this work on volunteers which isn’t sustainable. Ours is a very rich country with huge accumulations of wealth at the top and these resources need to be deployed to create quality communities and an environment for us all to live.