Oisín Ó hAlmhain

Green Party candidate for Blanchardstown-Mulhuddart

How would you help get more housing built in Fingal?

In short, we need to build, build, build (and repair/renovate!) I firmly believe in what is in the Green Party's policy: public housing on public land, particularly the Cost Rental model (aka the Vienna Model) – this means constructing affordable rental properties on public land, and only charging the cost of construction (removing the profit mortive and lowering rents), which ensures affordability and stability for our residents. We must avail of every opportunity to develop social and public housing on publicly owned land. In Austria, trade union reserves and pension funds are invested in this housing.

As a Fingal Council candidate deeply committed to addressing the pressing housing needs of our city, I advocate for a pragmatic approach to deliver safe, sustainable homes and communities. While progress is being made with approximately 12,000 homes in the pipeline, urgency is paramount in moving from conception to delivery. 

Additionally, I will work to crackdown on illegal full-time AirBnBs, reclaiming vital housing stock for the people of Dublin. As a party, we have also supported the introduction of a scheme to repurpose space above shops for residential use, a measure that could invigorate commercial districts while easing our housing shortage – we are making this a reality through the existing Croí Cónaithe Scheme.

Embracing the Cost Rental model and reinforcing investment in the Housing First programme, will help our most vulnerable receive the support they need. In addition, I will work to allocate additional resources to our council teams tasked with identifying and reclaiming vacant or derelict properties.

I will work towards a housing strategy that meets the needs of all.

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

Ensuring good-quality standards for housing, especially regarding warmth and energy efficiency, is essential to creating healthy and sustainable communities. As a Fingal candidate, I am committed to elevating these standards across the board. In social housing, this means supporting a significant increase in maintenance budgets, enabling swift resolution of issues like upgrading to double-glazed windows, enhancing insulation, and combating mould problems.

Furthermore, I support for rounded approach to improving housing conditions, recognising the importance of broader civic amenities. Investing in parks and playgrounds not only enhances quality of life but also promotes community cohesion. Particularly in densely populated areas lacking private gardens, these shared green spaces are invaluable for families, as highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

My vision for Fingal encompasses not only the enhancement of individual dwellings but also the creation of thriving, inclusive neighbourhoods where every resident can enjoy a safe, comfortable home life.

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

Dublin Airport is a major employer in Fingal, but we can’t be held to ransom by that. Blanchardstown-Mulhuddart starts at the back of the airport, and this means that a lot of people here live directly under the flight paths. Regulations have to be followed in all industries, and infringements such as are happening are simply not acceptable.

Given the existing transport infrastructure, I don't believe that a major expansion of the airport should be considered soon. Residents are already suffering from severe noise pollution and traffic congestion and any expansion would only make this worse. Any expansion should only be considered once better transport links like the Metro are complete and some way found to reduce the noise impact on residents. 

Although there is nothing that can be done by local government, we need to be looking at other ways of getting off this island, investing in our ferry ports and ensuring that sail-rail is an option for more people than it is now. We also need to stop subsidising airlines fly passengers within the Island of Ireland, and at an EU (and international) level we need to be charging tax on aviation fuel.

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

In Government, the Green Party have made public transport a priority and funded major projects everywhere, while cutting fares by 20% for adults and 60% for young people. Public transport use grew by 25% last year alone, which shows the value of investment.

Councillors don’t control this directly, but what we do have some say over is the allocation of road space. We need to dedicate more road space to bus lanes, bus gates and other priority measures - it isn’t right that a bus with 60 people is stuck in traffic behind a car with just one person. We need to elect councillors who will stand up to extreme pressure from the motoring lobby. We need to work productively with the NTA and other bodies who are leading on the delivery to ensure the projects are of maximum benefit to the community. Where there are issues, I will work closely with communities to highlight local concerns and push for improvements in safety for people walking and cycling, greening for the area and traffic calming.

We need to see public transport improvements delivered quickly so that we can benefit from more frequent, reliable services. I would strongly support the council using cameras to detect red light breakers and illegal bus lane users, to make public transport flow more smoothly. This sort of work would also work best with improved provision of disabled parking spaces and commercial loading bays.

Improved accessibility of our buses and trains is also key, so that public transport can be an option for everyone, especially older people, people with disabilities, and those travelling with children in buggies. It is particularly important to have winter maintenance plans in place so that we can prioritise the movement of public transport during extreme weather events rather than focusing on the movement of private cars.** **

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

I am proposing a new Green Way along the Tolka, through the Tolka Valley Park and linking with the Royal Canal Greenway at Dunsink Lane. This will give an alternative route into the hospital, up to the Technological University and to all the businesses and homes in the area, and take cars of the road, as well as showing some love to a forgotten place.

I cycle to and from work daily, so I know what it is like on the roads. Through the local policing forum, I will work to put pressure on the Gardai to enforce the rules of the road, for all road users.

I will prioritise investing in making roads safer with lower speed limits, with a move to 30km/h zones as a default in towns, to protect motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and reduce crashes. I will push for infrastructural improvements to tackle speeding and ensure that roads are designed to prioritise road safety, particularly that of children and other vulnerable road users.

Segregated bike lanes will increase cyclist safety and lower the number of accidents on the road. This should be done as part of a network, not just small bits of unconnected lanes, and be safe enough for everyone from young children to pensioners to be able to use with confidence. These cycle lanes should be segregated by a small kerb at the very least – not just a white line. That’s especially important near schools. This work will be politically difficult - it will need the backing of dedicated councillors who strongly believe in the cycling and walking agenda.

I will support “bike parks”, converting a small area in a car park for free, secure bike parking, particularly near transport hubs, as well as “Bike Bunkers” and look forward to supporting residents in getting them installed on their streets over the next few years. 

We also need zebra crossings at minor junctions, to provide for pedestrian priority, alongside safer crossing points – we’ve worked to secure a reduction in the cost of installing such crossings so that they can be used much more. That, combined with improved and widened footpaths would really improve things for pedestrians - particularly those who need extra time or space. We need to ensure that temporary works do not cut off access to cycleways and footpaths. I will also push for lighting that is “human scale” directed at footpaths instead of towards carriageways, often leaving our paths in near darkness. Benches are also key to ensure that people who are walking can get a rest.

Many of the lights in our junctions at busy periods heavily prioritise cars - at the expense of people walking. You will see hundreds of pedestrians forced to wait for car traffic to pass, which inexplicably enjoys more time. I want junction timing that prioritises disabled people, pedestrians, bikes, public transport - in that order.

I will also champion the introduction of annual car-free days in specific areas, to enable local markets and festivals, supporting communities that want car-free neighbourhoods. 

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

The number of vehicles on our roads has grown exponentially in recent years, and the COVID pandemic made it worse. We need to be giving people alternatives, and local government can do that by prioritising active travel and making sure people have access to most of what they need within walking distance of their houses.  

I will prioritise investing in making roads safer with lower speed limits, with a move to 30km/h zones as a default in towns, to protect motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and reduce crashes. I will push for infrastructural improvements to tackle speeding and ensure that roads are designed to prioritise road safety, particularly that of children and other vulnerable road users.

We need to see the rollout of cameras at traffic lights. We also need to change the engineering of roads around the Industrial units near Ballycoolin, etc.: there is an over-reliance on roundabouts, and lane widths, while suitable for large HGVs encourage speeding by smaller vehicles. This needs to be looked at. While we need to be able to get goods in and out of the area, we need to have alternatives for residents, that do not mean gridlock.

In addition to the “bike parks” mentioned in the cycling question above, I think that if we put park & ride/bike parking at various hubs along the M50 and N2 & N3 linked by greenways then people could get out of their cars and cycle or carshare the last stretch of their journey, reducing congestion and making everything safer.

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

Much of Blanchardstown-Mulhuddart is open space, even where industrial premises have been built. What we need to do is tackle areas that are currently wasteland (even around those industrial units) and make sure landowners are planting trees and wildflowers. I want to see green roofs on new buildings.

Last year Fingal CC announced a Biodiversity Action Plan that included 100 different actions to protect nature and improve biodiversity in the county that has been seriously damaged by development, pollution, and climate change. The Green Party has hugely increased the funding of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and ensured the funding for the appointment of bioversity officers in every Local Authority – we want to make their work as success and support their efforts as they work to reintroduce a biodiversity positive approach throughout the work of Fingal County Council.

We need to reverse some of the damage that has been done and there are fantastic community groups all over the county doing great work on the ground and a huge interest in improving and protecting nature – the Greens are keen to support them wherever we can, politically, financially and practically.

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

All towns should have easy access to open spaces where people and children can be in nature. Access to nature is essential for both physical and mental health. We are lucky in Fingal to have so many beautiful parks and beaches, but we need to ensure all our citizens have better access to them and ensure they are open at times when they can be appreciated. The Tolka flows through Mulhuddart, and there are a series of parks along it’s banks, but we need to be making sure that these are being kept clean and welcoming for everyone.

One key part of the Green Party Health Policy, which I helped write, was that we would try to get facilities into every neighbourhood, and where necessary have these shared between clubs and schools so that they get the maximum of use. This needs to be built into our planning system. Sites and locations must be identified prior to any building being undertaken. I believe that this has been improved upon in the last development plan, but we have a lot to catch up on.

Happy to engage with people on only of these questions on my Facebook page (Vote4Oisin) by e-mail at Oisin.ohalmhain@greenparty.ie or on any of the pages of my website www.oisinohalmhain.ie