Neil Dowling

Social Democrats candidate for Blanchardstown-Mulhuddart

How would you help get more housing built in Fingal?

We know from the 2022 Census results that Fingal is one of the fastest growing counties in Ireland, with a population that now stands at 330,506 people. It has never been more important to ensure that everyone who chooses to live in Fingal County, have the opportunity to do so. The Social Democrats have a huge number of solutions to the housing crisis. My initial focus if elected will be on eradicating vacancy and dereliction and increasing affordable housing and that it be available to all members of our community.

Eradicate Vacancy and Dereliction:

  • Advocate for greater resources for Fingal Co. Council to be able to action the current Vacant Homes Action Plan* 2022-2026.
  • Request to revisit this plan to consider increasing targets, given that new funding streams have now since come on stream.
  • Keep on top of the Local Authority to ensure that vacant social housing turnaround times are improved.


Increase Housing Supply:

  • Seek regular updates the Local Authority to ensure that over the lifetime of the Fingal Development plan* (2023-2029), they are providing for affordable, mixed tenure housing suitable for the average family sized household and that also caters for the needs of people including older people, large families, disabled people, the Traveller community, individuals and smaller families.
  • According to the Fingal County Council Housing Delivery Action Plan*: "As of April 2022, there were 15,613 units with planning permission on 123 sites in Fingal County Council. A total of 68 of these sites are active with a total of 2,900 units under construction." This is not good enough. The Local Authority needs to do everything within its power to ensure that permissions transition to housing much more quickly.
  • Ensure that the Local Authority plans for and builds social and affordable housing on public land.



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

It is vital for any community to ensure that we have the amenities and services needed to encourage social inclusion, resilience, foster good physical and mental health for all members of that community. Fingal County Council have a number of plans aimed at doing just that, but I believe there is a lack of joined up thinking on these. I want to try and ensure that such plans are not just box ticking exercises and are doing what they should be.

Local Councillors play no role in the planning system of the local authority, but it is imperative that decisions are based on the Fingal Development Plan which councillors play a key role in developing every six years.. Within this plan, the aims are clear, in that they must ensure that services and amenities are provided for new and existing communities and done so in a timely manner. I want to work with communities, clubs and groups on the ground, as well as Council committees including PPNs, to understand their needs and in turn communicate those needs to the Council. I will look to ensure that the Capital and Annual budget provides for such facilities and ensure that the Council engages with communities on this important issue.

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

We know that nearby residents are experiencing quite severe noise pollution as a result of the existing flight schedules. It is difficult to understand too how any expansion would work given the current carbon budget in place. Furthermore, the public transport infrastructure is not yet in place to be able to accommodate passenger expansion. If expansion is required, perhaps it is time now to look at other parts of the country to do this in. 

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

A huge amount needs to be done to improve public transport across the county. Metro-North is still a long way off. Congestion on our roads and the M50 is chronic and can only improve by providing more public transport and active travel solutions such as better cycling and walking infrastructure. While the NTA and Government hold the power to make the necessary changes on this issue, it is still the duty of Local Councillors to bring the concerns of those who live and work here to them and work towards establishing a system that works for everybody.

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

Road safety is vitally important, whether you drive, cycle, walk or use public transport. Until recently, cars were prioritised. Unfortunately, we are seeing a significant rise in the number of road deaths over the past few years. We have a lot of catching up to do to ensure that all road users feel safe to move around our county. Safer cycle lanes, accessible and even footpaths as well as ensuring vehicles cannot speed through estates, especially where children or less mobile people could be congregating or trying to cross the road is essential. Education is key and our Council should play its part in this, in providing bike training to students and providing public information on being mindful of all road users. 

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

I want to ensure that new cycle lanes are safe and connected not just to the city centre but throughout our communities. We need to reduce car use and not only to get to work or to educational institutions. Cycling should be an option for people to get to their local shops, pitches and community centres safely too.

We need to expand bike rental services across the county, including e-bikes and cargo bikes, so that more people can choose to cycle.

Permeability is really important to encourage more people to walk and to get to their nearest public transport stop. Much more can be done on this.

We need to continue to support the building of existing Greenways and look at other routes throughout the county.

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

Again, this is where the County's Development Plan comes into play. Councillors get to decide how land is zoned across the county and this must include greater access to more green spaces. We need to be doing much more to protect our beaches and coast line. There is a huge amount the Council can do to promote greater biodiversity including planting more pollinator friendly bulbs and plants, more community gardens and allotments, protecting and encouraging more native species to grow, reduced grass cuttings and educating communities on the biodiversity crisis we are facing.

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

I would look for an audit of existing sports facilities, parks, art spaces, playgrounds and teenspaces and identify communities that need such facilities the most. I would work with clubs and groups to look for specific facilities through council budgets and available grant funding. These facilities are vital to the wellbeing of all residents in Fingal.