John Lonergan

Labour Party candidate for Ballymun-Finglas

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

I would advocate for the council to use its compulsory purchase order powers more often, especially for long term vacant buildings. There are simply far too many vacant buildings lying derelict for over 10-15 years and we need to use them and bring them into use.

We need to reduce the bureaucracy of building houses too. It should also be possible to speed up the planning process. It just takes too long to build houses. 

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

More needs to be used of our existing housing stock. Dublin City Council needs more financing for it to able for it to retrofit all existing social housing. Long delays on this need to be cut down too.

I would extend the eviction ban until more rental rights are enacted. Lots of people now are forced to uproot their lives for no reason whatsoever, which is extremely damaging for both the family, individuals and the community. ‘No fault’ evictions should be stopped as well as removing the grounds which allows a landlord to end a tenancy on the basis that they intend to sell the property within three months.

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

New bye laws are needed to strengthen the ability for fines to be levied through a zero tolerance approach. The current situation is that a litter warden needs to both see the dog disposing of it and the dog owner neglecting to dispose of it. I believe that, if local authorities were permitted to use CCTV to detect and fine dog-fouling offenders, it would act as a strong deterrent. There should be zones with intensive enforcement in them for streets with persistent fouling. Likewise, Labour Senator Mark Wall has done excellent work on seeing legislation passed allowing for councils to better use CCTV footage to identify repeat offenders of dumping - which costs local authorities 100 million every year on clean ups.

New bins need to be put where there are no bins currently. There are many long stretch of road in Ballymun-Finglas in which there are no bins which makes it difficult to dispose of waste. We also need more litter wardens.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

The government's plan to tackle vacancy and dereliction is simply not working. Vacancy and derelict houses make our streets less safe and make antisocial behaviour worse.It is worth noting that is costs a lot of money to bring a building into use after it has become derelict - so we need to keep buildings in use.

A key element is a proper audit and register of vacanct and derelict houses. Many of us know of derelict houses, but DCC are slow to react. A through inspection of houses assumed vacant means that the CPO process can be used to bring these properties back into use. The budget for compulsory purchase orders needs to be increased, as it is a key power in DCC’s hands and leads to an decrease in the number of derelict houses. 

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

One of the main complaints that I hear when I go door to door, especially from elderly people, is the lack of street lighting. Adequate street lighting is crucial for elderly people, women and people with disabilities.

We need more community guards. Policing concerns are a constant issue raised on the doors, and Ballymun-Finglas has never has never had enough guards. Gardai do trojan work but we need more of them, and they need more resources.

Increased investment in local sports clubs like football and basketball is somewhere beyond crucial in my opinion. Sports is essential for several reasons - mental health, physical health, community, friendship, but it is also crucial for providing an outlet for young people to get out of the house, into fresh air and keep them occupied. We need more facilities, from football astros to basketball courts.

Outreach work needs to be supported too, so no child or teenager falls through the cracks. Of course, this is easier said than done, but it needs to be considered.

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

Metrolink needs to start and we need to deliver it quickly. It should be able to take pressure off other services and will lead to a more efficient service.

We also need to invest so that more bus stops have good lighting, shelter spaces and real time information, which should make many feel safer about taking the bus at night.

We need to advocate for more buses actually arriving on time too.

We must also constantly monitor bus routes as Bus Connects iis rolled out to ensure all communities have a reasonable, quality service that we deserve.

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

There is a need for balance here. Cyclists need to be encouraged to cycle; but that requires more work. There are some cycle lanes that are so dirty and filled with muck and rubbish that it is dangerous to cycle in, so this needs to be improved.

There needs to be huge work done in terms of fixing broken footpaths. Broken footpaths present huge accessibility problems especially in terms of elderly people and people with buggies. 

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 rise of the far right is possibly one of the most concerning political trends in the last few years and is part of the reason that I have become increasingly active in politics.

We need to be able to showcase the strengths and advantages of people coming to Ireland and enable people to use their skills here. Systems like direct provision help no one, and we need a system where it is easy for people who come here can get a job and showcase their skills.