Patrick Dempsey

Labour Party candidate for Ballyfermot-Drimnagh

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

I am proud to tell people that I was raised in the flats. The flats were the springboard for my family. But I am also one of those many young people forced back into the box bedroom, like two-thirds of young Irish people. We are in a housing lock-out. I will fight tooth and nail for the Council to show more ambition in housing delivery.

I will fight for public housing on public land. The long-term goal of the Council, and the state, should be to establish a publicly financed and built housing model similar to the Vienna model. Sustainable, well-designed, rent-controlled, life-long tenancies, and shielding low and middle-income earners from a dysfunctioning market. I know it will take a long time to achieve, but we must elect people to start now if we are to lift many in our city out of insecurity. A public housing model will also allow us to end reliance on the HAP scheme.

Empty social housing stock is taking months to be refurbished after being vacant. This is unacceptable, especially with significant social housing waiting lists. In my dad's flats, two out of the six flats have been vacant for more than a year. I will push the Council to fund more directly employed staff, rather than contractors, whose task is to renovate social housing, with minimum target times to re-let properties.

The next city development plan commences in 2028. I will work intensively to ensure that it is ambitious in increasing social and affordable homes. This should also include an emphasis on one-bedroom provision, as there is an increasing number of single people and young couples who are unable to find housing due to the under-supply of this. There is a need to address the gap between delivery and need and prioritise development alongside high-frequency public transport and active travel.

It is shocking when you look up over shop fronts in Dublin to see how much upstairs space is vacant, with very little uptake on government schemes. The Council needs a strategy on how to unlock these spaces and approach property owners to unlock these spaces for housing. It unlocks more housing, but also livens up our streets and makes our city and village centres a place to live in, rather than just go to.

We need to end vulture funds investing in Ireland. I will push my party to fight this battle in Ireland and at a European level. We also need to end land hoarding and speculation. I will challenge the Council to use its powers of compulsory purchase because, in a housing crisis, no land in our city should be left overgrown and unused for the sake of wealth gain.

On a related note, the Council is struggling to implement the tenant-in-situ scheme. I know anecdotally that delays have led to willing landlords pulling out of property sales to the Council. Again, one of those things that's great on paper but poor in implementation.

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

The Council is not delivering on their responsibility for enforcement of standards of private rental properties, leading to cowboy landlords providing substandard accommodation. Work by Ivana Bacik TD found that 746 improvement notices were issued in Q1 of 2023, but only two court cases were brought. I firmly believe in a general NCT-type model with homes being certified.

The Council needs to increase the number of inspectors to tackle housing standards head-on. Enforcement must be rigorous and not end with letters or notices. I will fight to ensure the Council has the resources to follow up on these notices for enforcement where standards have not improved. This includes legal action and banning individuals from being landlords. Nobody should be forced into handing over a huge part of their income to live in miserable housing.

Inspections are also meant to take place when there is consideration of property for HAP and Homeless HAP. There is little enforcement, little accountability, and worse still, the Council are sometimes subsidising poor housing conditions with housing payments.

Maintenance and dampness within Council properties is a major issue. I know the Dublin Inquirer has covered Oliver Bond in detail. This is replicated across Dublin, including Lissadel Maisonettes in Drimnagh. It is the same for the Council flats my family live in too, with dampness and mould being a major issue, with paint over solutions.

I want to see an end to the reliance on contractors, rolling estate management programmes, and target times for repairs. Enforcement standards must also apply to the Council and not just the private rental market. Council properties must be subject to inspection and enforcement. I can bet we'd see a step change in how the Council maintains properties if this happened.

I have also raised that while much has been done to provide private homeowners with energy efficiency schemes, lauded as the 'rooftop revolution', not enough is being done to address climate and energy measures within social housing. The Council is the state's biggest landlord. Council tenants, due to poor insulation, are paying high energy bills. There is a two-tier climate transition happening across Dublin which must end. Schemes like the Solar Electricity Grant must apply to social housing tenants.

Nationally, I support my Party's Renter's Rights Bill which would end no-fault evictions, allow tenants rights to dry clothes or own a pet, and create a rental property register so you could see how much previous tenants paid for a prospective property.

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

In 2023, Dublin City Council proposed hiring 100 additional staff for street cleaning to increase the resources needed to keep the city clean. Well-paying, local jobs in the Council. The Council could do this if they agreed to stop cutting the local property tax, approximately five euros per month for an average homeowner. Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Sinn Fein, and PBP voted to keep the tax cut, which benefits thousands of more well-off homeowners, does nothing for anyone renting or in social housing, and denies the city an additional resource.

I understand that this is not a popular proposition for some and that there should be exemptions. However, I think most citizens understand that our Council is struggling to keep our city clean. Some Councillors moan about the state of the city and the lack of resources, especially during summer, but have a ‘sleeveen’ approach when it comes to addressing it. If we want expanded local public services and cleaner streets, the Council needs the resources to do so. While this must primarily come from the state, the Council has its limited revenue-raising ability right now.

Waste collection must be back in the hands of the council to end illegal dumping. I will work with colleagues across the Council to make this happen, and work has been already underway and supported by my party at a national level. Private companies are charging more for waste collection at a time when workers are struggling with bills and their profits are soaring. Private waste collection has failed. It is time for the Council to take back control and run our waste services. For less illegal dumping, greater recycling, and lower household bills.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

The scourge of vacancy is really infuriating. I see it all the time as I walk around the community. One frustrating vacant building is the former OLV Youth Centre on Sarsfield Road, which had planning permission for older person units. This was withdrawn and now the site has become an illegal dump.

It's as simple as this: the Council needs to be pressured into using its power for compulsory purchase orders and is too shy in doing so right now. I will be raising these cases of vacancy and dereliction where they arise if elected, and push for the Council to develop these properties into housing or community amenities.

I will push for more funding allocation for compulsory purchasing and deep retrofit and restoration.

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

More Community Gardaí are crucial. Numbers are slowly starting to recover but at too slow a pace. Relationships between Gardaí, the public, and businesses are so important to cohesion and in supporting the prevention and reporting of crime. This is a fight for resources which Councillors must bring to Gardaí and the Department of Justice.

In terms of the role of the Council, public design is crucial to keeping the city safe. I want to see a less hostile, more open design for our city. I highlighted that making places 'lived in' keeps places busy and alive with movement and people. Better, brighter, public lighting is an important part of this design too, particularly for women and those more vulnerable. Street furniture and design are also important; places must feel alive. Open spaces and pedestrianisation are also a part of this solution.

Councillors have had powers degraded in terms of community safety. Councillors must be central to Community Safety Partnerships, and I personally find this very useful when I attend the local civic centre. It gives the community a chance to connect with those accountable, and if elected, will be at as many to hear concerns and work to address local issues.

I know as a Youth Justice Worker that anti-social behaviour is an ongoing issue. We need to fight for investment in youth and community services, as resources are struggling with demand. I know that scramblers are a major problem. I see it all the time in Ballyfermot. Other than it being a nuisance and destroying green spaces, I am terrified that I will find out that one of my young people will be injured or worse on a scrambler. We need to start addressing this issue, and it lies with Gardaí and the Council to address this.

This may be an aside, but anti-homeless and hostile design is disgusting and will fight to root it out too. It has been designed with the allusion of keeping streets safer but all it does is make the city more inhumane and unsafe to those most vulnerable.

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

I will work to ensure that the city development plan includes initiatives that improve our infrastructure for public transport. This will reduce car reliance and emissions.

I am very supportive of Busconnects, however, its vision is currently unrealised because of the mismatch and delay in implementation. I am glad the NTA is taking the time to review some aspects around Tyrconnell Road and Bluebell, as this was a large area that would be underserved by buses and public transport.

I want to see it get done, and done right. I recently informed residents about changes in terms of the infrastructure. I was shocked by how little they were engaged with, by the NTA and politicians. People will support the schemes if they understand how it will work. I will ensure that the infrastructure schemes are done well and in accordance with plans.

I am glad the Dart+ South West is progressing, but I am pushing to see funding allocated to a Ballyfermot Dart Station at Kylemore Road as a part of this, especially with new planned developments in the area. A feasibility study is one thing, but backing it up with money is another. I don't want to see it go the way of the Lucan Luas study, which just gathered cobwebs and forgotten about. Another side note - I would also like to see this reviewed again!

Dublin Bikes are also public transport! But I will talk about them in another section.

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

I won't proclaim to be a cycling expert, more a regular cyclist and cycle lane user who wants to arrive safely. Dublin is treacherous to cycle in many places. I know from using lanes in Ballyfermot and Inchicore.

Dublin Bikes was an idea introduced by former Labour Lord Mayor Andrew Montague. So we have a history of cycling in the city, one I am proud of, and one I use a lot! I want to see Dublin Bikes expanded; our City does not end at the canals. We need to see it expanded into Ballyfermot, Drimnagh, and Walkinstown. These areas are such a quick cycle from the city, so why can't we provide the bikes? Why can't we have Dublin Bike stations at Crumlin Hospital or Ballyfermot College? The scheme needs renewal and expansion, and I want to push for that.

I will support active travel schemes, and have raised with the Dublin Inquirer that many parts of the Dublin South Central area have not been receiving their fair share of active travel funding. People in our area, regardless of their income, need these lanes. I know it because I use them and they're terrifying. Get decent lanes in and people will follow. We need continuous, segregated, contra-flow cycle lanes and they will get my support if elected to Council.

We need a review of footpaths across our area with a programme of works to start addressing the potholes and clutter that are leaving little space for buggies and wheelchairs to go around. Universal design must be incorporated into their design too, and not an afterthought.

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

This is a personal topic for me and one that I have been struggling with a lot if I am honest. I strongly considered whether or not to run for election based on the risk I might face in running because of my values and my identity. I think this represents the danger posed to our democracy right now.

I have been a long-time campaigner on LGBTQ+  issues, from ending homophobic bullying to marriage equality. It was personal for me; I faced abuse for years as a young person, saw friends assaulted, had friends flee to Ireland for shelter, and heard too many stories of people ending their lives. I've also seen Ireland progress; passing marriage equality was one of Ireland's best days, rooted in our value of fairness. But we see how progress can be reversed.

Ultimately, I decided to run because, in my view, it's never been more important for our Council to represent what our great city looks like, to have strong progressive advocates at the local level, and to elect people who reject division.

In my canvassing and campaign literature, I am encouraging residents of Dublin from migrant communities to register to vote. Many are unaware that they can vote in Council elections when I speak to them. They need to be heard.

We need urgent action on housing. It is not to minimise or ignore extreme ideologies that are rooted in racism, but rather address how this issue is taking hold. It is clear to me that this issue has provided a way for agitators to scapegoat communities. It is eroding solidarity within some communities that are particularly struggling with housing insecurity. Agitators would rather have people against each other, rather than for the collective goal of making sure everyone is housed in decent and affordable homes. I have yet to see them at any housing protest I have attended.

It's never been more important for politicians to stick with what is right on these issues, as the majority of Irish people expect them to, especially when they proclaim to be progressive. It’s disappointing to see some on the left move right for political gain. Moreso when recent polling shows that the vast majority of Irish people have a positive view of immigration. In other words, I strongly encourage citizens to elect people who will not abandon their values.