Ray Dunne

Fianna Fáil candidate for Clontarf

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

There is both a demand and supply side to this question. 

Firstly, I would like to say that FF in government have delivered 100,000 units since the formation of this government. It’s not like flicking a switch, these things take time.

Getting housing built is hugely important, delaying home ownership delays people growing up and maturing into a phase of their lives where they settle down and have children. It is also hard on parents, with grown up children living at home and “not moving on”.

There is more to this problem than simply building housing, there is a huge amount of under utilized housing in Dublin.

I work as an estate agent, and I see desperate couples bidding on the same house all they time. To get it they often nearly bankrupt themselves in the process, again working long hours and delaying children (during those critical years) to get on the ladder.

On planning, I would like to see judicial reviews evaluated and the process speeded up.

The State needs to provide part funding to builders who are struggling to get access to capital markets. 

We could improve the demand side of the equation with some of the below:

  • Extend the “rent a room” system to allow an individual rent out a single apartment for the annual tax exemption limit. Same terms and conditions as the rent a room scheme will apply so that the landlord could move a tenant out quickly for whatever reason.  A (much) cheaper rent will come with fewer rights,  (this should also not affect the rental caps).
  • Do a nationwide advertising campaign to encourage people with empty bedrooms to avail of the rent a room scheme.
  • Better grant aid support of house upgrades if the rent a room scheme is being used.
  • Introduce flexible short-term rental contracts for properties on the market or in probate, with the understanding that the letting is only conditional on the unit selling or legal issues being resolved.  This will help alleviate some of the pressure on buyers and sellers during the transaction process.
  • Water down some of the very onerous requirements for owners of listed buildings, it is sometimes more profitable for an owner to let the building fall down through lack of maintenance (e.g. flood and “accidental” fire), than keep the building in use. This is a case of the “perfect being the enemy of the good”. The derelict homes grant has helped increase supply.   ** ** To address the supply side, if costs are reduced, supply will increase:
  • To help speed up the planning and building, I advocate many of the ideas of the YIMBY (short for “yes in my backyard”). Improved planning with fewer legal opportunities for building holdups. Individual with deep pockets, have the resources to hold up developments for many years through the courts. These legal delays also put inordinate costs onto the developer which are invariably passed on to the purchaser.  
  • VAT rebates on building materials, if the building/apartment is sold with a margin of 10% or less.  
  • Some landlords that I see have insane rents, and are happier leaving units out of the market in anticipation of a highly paid couple / individual eventually renting it, and simply taking the capital appreciation as a return. I support introducing additional “5x” property tax on empty units to destroy the profitability of this predatory business behaviour.
  • Move the 2 year timeframe for a rental property to be vacant in order to be exempt from any rental caps to 4 years. Some institutions are leaving the apartments vacant for 2 years in order to increase the rent to market rent and exploiting this.
  • Provide more tax relief to small landlords to discourage them from selling. RTB needs to be made a lot more efficient. Landlords report tedious delays.
  • Increase taxation on rental income on large funds.


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

More supply increases stock for renters and supply is increasing under the current Housing for All plan.

Minimum BER requirements for rental properties.  

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

Firstly, I am against throwing other people’s money at problems without trying out lower cost solutions. Politicians have a bad habit of not valuing budgets that need to be raised from the local community. 

Compared to my childhood, dog poo is not as big a concern as it once was. Responsible dog ownership is something that is encouraged. Further encouragement through advertising campaigns and street signage is low-cost. Increase penalties for offenders. 

On litter, our council already does a good job with their limited resources. However, we have a large population of under-employed migrants and asylum seekers. In return for their weekly allowance they could provide litter removal and park services. Our parks are suffering from infestations of invasive plant species (especially Rhododendron Ponticum), where often the best method of removal is by hand. 

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

With a combination of carrot and stick. 

Firstly the stick.

I support that any building left vacant for 10 years or more reverts to the state. Some building are caught up in legal wrangling for decades, having a hard deadline would mean that parties would have an incentive to come to an agreement and get the property back “working again”.   

Similarly, some apartments are left empty and are relying on capital appreciation for their investment backers. These should be subject to a 5x property tax, to bring the units back into the market at realistic rents.  

“Use it or lose it”.

Secondly the carrot.

Relaxing of rules around listed buildings so that buildings can be maintained using normal modern methods, and can have a “change of use” (to residential) without an onerous process. It must be more are profitable to use the building than to let it rot.  

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

A much more visible police presence and stricter sentences for repeat offenders. 

Drones with cameras controlled by the gardaí could react quickly to crime making it much harder to engage in anti-social or criminal behaviour without being identified.

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

Public transport pays for itself in productivity increases. Many people sit in cars for 8 hours per week commuting. This is essentially dead time, an extra day in a 40 hour work week. Giving some of this time back, increases the national income (and taxes), win win.

More funding please. Increased bus routes and trains at peak times. I would also suggest reduced parking in the city centre for car owners at the weekends. 

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

Bike lanes and walking paths separated from traffic where they can be. **But in the right places. **The current Clontarf cycle lane is killing businesses in the village. I sometimes think that civil servants have no idea what it is like to run a business that suddenly finds itself separated from it customers through no fault of its own. Bank loans, payroll and (council!) rates still have to be met with a dwindling revenue. 

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

Firstly we need to take the emotion out of the debate. Many/Most of these migrants are doing what Irish people did in the States for decades. Some of you might remember the jokes about making up US social security numbers.

One of my friends recently suggested substituting the phrase “military aged male” to “draft dodger” or “pint drinking male”. 

Remember that Russia is amplifying hate and discord across Europe through massive bot farms /paid social media accounts and directly funding headbanger politicians.    HOWEVER.

Ireland has a finite capacity to absorb immigrants. Essentially there is an infinite number of people who would prefer to live and work here compared to what we can accommodate. We need a working “fit for purpose” process and a disincentive to discourage economic migrants from choosing Ireland. 

My father was recently in hospital and the nurses who cared for him were immigrants. They did a fantastic job. 

Tents in Dublin city and parks are sending a terrible message. We need low cost and secure accommodation such as modular homes.

We need to separate the people running from a genuine war from the people looking for a nicer/easier life. We can’t be incentivising people to come here with large benefits and welfare. If some are exploiting the system, they should be sent home as we are at full capacity now. Also speed up the process of deportation.

People arriving from the UK, should especially be fast tracked. 

Immigrants living in an area should be encouraged to provide services to local clubs/tidy town committees [as some already do]: cleaning up litter, helping maintain local parks and the like. There is currently no upside for local communities housing a bunch of bored immigrants. This at least will give something back to the local area directly. In addition by getting local interactions, the effects of “othering” are reduced.

Good learning facilities and Internet could be provided to allow people to upskill through on-line courses and hopefully get sponsorship by a workplace in Ireland or elsewhere and get out of the system by themselves.   

But it’s complicated and I don’t have all the answers. 

In summary I think we need a citizens assembly to come up with a nuanced fair way to deal with this issue. 


The Social media aspect of this question needs a separate piece. Social Media Companies are making Billions (with a B) from disinformation and outrage content, and defending their right to make money “by defending free speech” (Hello Elon). 

Disinformation could be solved tomorrow with a couple of days coding and a willingness to forgo outrage dollars (that’s the hard part to solve).

For example, a post by Ryan McBeth outlines a good strategy.

There are four ways social media could prevent disinformation:

  1. Vectorize images into a database and then search that database for matches whenever a new image is uploaded. Publish the date and context in which that image first appeared.
  2. Inspect images for copyright. Deny the posting if an image was not purchased or offer the opportunity to purchase the image.
  3. Truth score - Track the number of times a poster has been moderated.
  4. Cool down - Restrict the number of times a user can post or share content. Implement a delay that increases as content is shared.


Free speech is important. This plan could be implemented with just a few coder-months’ worth of programming work and still ensure that people have a voice.