Paul Mulville

Social Democrats candidate for Rush-Lusk

How would you help get more housing built in Fingal?

As a sitting Councillor, it’s deeply concerning to hear stories from friends, neighbours and Fingal residents struggling to make ends meet for rent, let alone saving enough to afford their own homes. We have a locked-out generation, living with their parents or in insecure rentals, unable to become adults in their own right. Homeownership shouldn’t be a pipedream. It should be the standard.

Ultimately, this is a national issue, driven by the developer and profit-led policies of a Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil duopoly. However, in my capacity as a local Councillor, I'm taking every action I can to put pressure on this neglectful government. 

Notably, I introduced a council motion to ban the bulk buying of homes by vulture and cuckoo funds. Across the North County, we have seen the disastrous effects of this practice, where potential residents are locked out of homeownership by the purchasing power of international investment funds and forced to rent at exorbitant prices instead. Additionally, I secured funding for more planning enforcement inspectors to hold developers accountable.

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

Frequently, developers are shirking their legal commitments to build promised facilities in new estates, such as crèches and playgrounds. 

Ultimately, this responsibility for needed public infrastructure shouldn’t be the remit of private enterprises, whose motivations are not conducive to the fast delivery of anything beyond what makes them money. We need to see a return to the state building of high-quality homes and amenities on public land, which a Land Development Agency report has suggested could unlock as many as 60,000 homes.

The bottom line is that we need to build liveable and long-term communities instead of using the unaffordable scattershot approach from the current government.

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

Many aspects of this plan don’t add up to me. Firstly, from a Climate perspective, the current plans to expand Dublin Airport are reckless. It’s difficult to see how this expansion would align with the now legally binding 5-year departmental carbon budgets.

Secondly, residents in Lusk & Rush are already facing severe noise pollution from the existing flight routes. Any expansion would need thorough consultation to ensure these residents’ well-being is not put at further risk.

Thirdly, it seems illogical that we would expand the Airport without first having a robust and modern transportation system, such as the long-promised Metro North, to facilitate this passenger increase. As An Taisce has warned, this decision seems to be motivated by economic growth rather than the long-term well-being of the residents of Fingal.

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

To put it mildly, a lot. It’s shameful that in 2024, the Dart does not go beyond Malahide, locking many commuters out of timely routes to work and forcing many to commute through gridlocked traffic.

The story of transport in Fingal is the story of successive failed promises. For instance, the delivery of Metro North has become a joke locally, with so many people doubting they’ll live to see the day it’s finally constructed & operational. Certainly, it’s a national embarrassment that our capital airport doesn’t have a connected metro system like every other major European city, and it is a shock to many visitors who come here. I have been pushing both points for a long time at the council level.

Still, frustratingly, there’s only so much Councillors can do to affect national policy, especially when the leading government parties are so lacking on the issue.

Locally, I have been fighting to hold the National Transport Authority (NTA) accountable for the subpar service provided on privatised bus routes of the 33a and 33b, which are now in the remit of the Go-Ahead service provider rather than Dublin Bus. While we were promised by the NTA that “passengers will benefit from this decision”, just a few years later, in 2022, we saw the Managing Director of Go-Ahead apologising to an Oireachtas committee for their subpar service.

During the Bus Connects consultation process in 2019, I made a comprehensive submission to air residents' concerns, such as the inconsistency of service and the ad-hoc changes to standard established routes. Finally, in 2024, we are seeing some progress - particularly on re-establishing legacy routes.

However, we still need to see better accountability of this public service that people rely on to be consistent and on time for their education and livelihoods. Fundamentally, we’re witnessing just another example of how profit-motivated public planning has led to a race to the bottom that Fingal residents must navigate.

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

I am an active cyclist, opting for cycling and public transportation instead of driving. However, funnily enough, I don’t actually own a bike! I use the rental bike service in Portrane and Donabate for my commute to the train station or use the available buses. Unsurprisingly, I secured an expansion of the bleeper bike service across Donabate, Portrane, and soon Rush and Lusk.

As a regular cyclist, I see first-hand the shortcomings of our cycling infrastructure in the North County. For instance, there is no safe cycle route from Rush or Lusk to the nearby train station, and there is no safe cycle route from Donabate and Portrane to Swords. I’ve done both routes before, and as many local cyclists will attest, it’s not for the faint of heart.

At the council level, I've been pushing for this joint-up thinking for cycle infrastructure within the various towns and to connect them properly. It’s great to see the advanced works happening on-site for the Broadmeadow Way greenway from Donabate to Malahide and a route now identified for the expansion from Rogerstown Park, Balleally, via Rush and Lusk Station, into Lusk.

The council staff and civil servants must be commended for getting the project to this stage. However, these massive infrastructure projects take time, and more should be done in conjunction, such as those connections from Donabate to Swords and safe cycling to the train station in Rush and Lusk.

In terms of walkability, a lot more could be done. We are seeing new estates being built that are essentially islands, lacking the necessary infrastructure for residents to cross the road safely, forcing them to use a car to exit their estates safely.

For example, I’ve been pushing hard in Donabate for an adequate crossing outside the newer Glaslinn and Cobbes Court estates. A simple pelican crossing would mean the world to these residents, providing a safe and healthy option to leave their estate. However, as previously mentioned, the current government's scattershot approach to housing is all about housing units absent of the long-term infrastructural needs and well-being of the residents within a livable, walkable community.

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

What's good for pedestrians and cyclists is also a significant benefit for road users. When new cycle lanes are built, we also see connected roads become safer and better maintained for motorists. I don’t believe it’s good planning to consider these interests as oppositional or mutually exclusive, as we all fall under these different categories at different times. However, to focus on road users for a moment, it is deeply concerning to see casualty rates on Irish roads increasing 19% from last year, with this year's figures being the highest within a decade.

We need to see more camera-based enforcement within Fingal to protect us and responsible road users from reckless drivers and more Gardaí on the beat, monitoring the roads to help ensure safety for local residents. In addition, we need to see more lighting in appropriate locations that have been long neglected, such as the R127 out of Lusk to Blake’s Cross, Hearse Road and Turvey Avenue in Donabate.

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

One of a local Councillor's most important roles and powers is the ability to rezone land within the County Development Plan every six years. I can proudly say that within the most recent development plan (2023 - 2029), I voted against any large-scale rezonings of high amenity, rural, open space and greenbelt land.

Yes, housing is needed, but do we want to live within a concrete jungle with no green spaces within walking distance? If re-elected, you can rest assured that I will continue to protect our high amenity and greenbelt land and encourage the creation of new public parks wherein native trees are planted.

Also, as an active member of the Council’s Climate Action, Biodiversity and Environment policy committee, I’ve pushed hard at each step to fund, staff, finalise and implement the council’s overall biodiversity action plan. I’m happy to report that the recruitment of council ecology staff, on the council, is due to be completed this May. 

In addition, I’m proud of my work with Clean Coasts Ireland to help local volunteers re-establish the Clean Coast group for Donabate and the successful push to end the harmful beach-scrapping practices following a strong community-led campaign. This is a model to follow throughout the North County to protect the critical biodiversity on our many beaches.

If any reader is interested in setting one up in their local area or getting involved with the Donabate one, please get in touch. We need to protect our beaches, particularly as Climate Breakdown progresses. This issue is close to my heart, as I live near a site of drastic coastal erosion at Portrane. Not only is this severely affecting local residents and traders, with imminent risk to their homes, but it is also leading to the destruction of protected natural habitats of nearby protected species.

As a member of the coastal liaison committee, I’ve long been calling for Minister Darragh O’Brien to treat this matter with the urgency it deserves, as this will be the reality for many habitats and communities in Ireland over the next decade. Portrane Beach can offer a template for nature-based solutions to protect our coastal communities for all species that call it home - however, current plans are progressing far too slowly.

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

The North County is in desperate need of permanent swimming facilities. We recently had pop-up pools throughout Fingal, which were enormously popular. The demand is high, but the delivery is severely lacking. There are plans for a permanent pool in Balbriggan, which will likely be the first in the North County in the near future. However, a closer one to serve the residents of Donabate, Portrane, Rush and Lusk is much needed.

Of course, a large project of this kind will understandably take time, and that’s why I have been pressing the council to purchase the pop-up pools so they can be used semi-permanently until a proper pool is delivered.

In addition, we must support a broader range of activities in the North County beyond the traditional sports that we already see so much investment in. I was delighted to see the inclusion of an all-weather running track within the Ballymastone Recreational Hub and pushed hard to secure funds for a skatepark and large playground within these plans. I will ensure a similar diversity of activities are delivered in the proposed Recreational Sports Hub for Rathmore Park in Lusk.

Across Fingal, I am now pushing hard for teen spaces. This concept has been successfully trialled within South Dublin County Council, which is essentially a purposefully built playground with older kids in mind. I often hear valid concerns from residents of teenagers hanging out within children's playgrounds. However, it’s hard to blame these teens when you consider that they’re largely neglected in our public plans, with no designated outdoor public spaces to simply hang out with their friends. 

We must also consider that those who are not athletically inclined are served within our communities, and that’s why I have been pushing, alongside a strong community campaign, to have a multi-functional arts, community & youth facility within the rapidly expanding Donabate and Portrane Peninsula.

I have introduced motions at the council level to secure this at every relevant opportunity and, most recently, at the Donabate Urban Framework plan meeting. Ultimately, all of these are essential pieces in the puzzle to create durable and enriching communities that will serve the North County for generations to come.