Rory Hogan

Fianna Fáil candidate for Pembroke

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

I am only too aware of how difficult the situation is, as I am still living at home and know that it is going to take me a lot longer to be able to save for a mortgage. I know how much tougher it would be if I were trying to rent somewhere.

Firstly, I want a strategic shift in our approach to urban development, particularly on building height limits, especially in areas within the Grand and Royal Canals. We simply have to build upwards to optimize the limited space available. Adjusting height limits unlocks the potential for increased housing supply. It's about supply and demand – the higher we build, the more housing units we can deliver.

But, if we are building up, we must also provide ample amenities to enhance the quality of life. This can be done via innovative public-private partnerships, where housing developments are multifaceted and incorporate amenities within a single block. By integrating mixed-use zoning, we can create vibrant, inclusive neighbourhoods that cater to diverse needs and preferences.

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

This is essential for ensuring the well-being and dignity of Dubliners. Dublin city councillors have limited capacity in delivering this, which is something we must address, however, some measures can be implemented to ensure improved conditions in social housing.

One way is to prioritize the maintenance and enhancement of our existing housing stock while also addressing systemic issues that have contributed to neglect and substandard living conditions. It is crucial that Dublin City Council is adequately resourced to maintain and upgrade existing social housing units. As new social housing developments are added to the housing stock, resources should be expanded in tandem to ensure that we do not neglect our existing housing infrastructure. We need sustainable funding to employ more people in Dublin City Council’s housing maintenance section. This in turn would provide additional capacity for repairs, renovations, and ongoing maintenance.

The Department of Housing needs to make money available to the City. The ringfenced funding allocated to maintenance should be expanded with the help of any excess funding for housing that was left unspent.

In terms of privately rented properties, it is important that the RTB is given appropriate regulatory enforcement to hold landlords accountable for maintaining safe and habitable living conditions for tenants. I would be supportive of measures to expand the capacity of the RTB, however, this would be a matter for the Department of Housing, rather than the Dublin City Council.

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

Citizens are more inclined to respect and preserve a tidy environment – be it one where they live, work or socialise. To its credit Dublin City Council employs dog wardens and litter wardens to tackle the issues around littering and dog waste – but while they do a good job, there are not enough of them and the ones we have cannot be everywhere. Dublin City Council's Waste Management staff face resource constraints, which hinder their ability to address these issues comprehensively.

It is a basic civic duty for Dublin City Council to regularly clean public spaces. But community involvement and support is also critical. We have to empower residents and citizens to report instances of littering and dog waste, aiding council staff in targeting problem areas.

To bolster Dublin City Council's efforts in combating litter, I am committed to advocating for increased funding and resources for the Waste Management Department. While securing additional funding may pose challenges within the council's current budgetary constraints, I am determined to lobby the government for ringfenced funding earmarked specifically for the expansion of personnel within Dublin City Council.

Having a clean and smart-looking capital city is as much a national responsibility as it is a local one, especially given the huge numbers who visit our city every day to work and socialise.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

There is no silver bullet. Tackling vacancy and dereliction needs a multifaceted approach. The government’s ‘Housing for All’ plan has delivered numerous schemes and initiatives to target vacancy and dereliction. The situation has started to improve since the new government was appointed in mid-2020.

  • The government introduced a vacant property tax which is calculated as three times the normal property tax rate. This new tax is aimed towards encouraging property owners to sell and offload their vacant or derelict properties. The tax applies to properties left unoccupied for 30 days or more in a 12-month period.
  • The government also introduced the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant. This is a fund that derelict and vacant property owners can apply for that will help fund the rejuvenation and repairs of a property. The scheme is designed to encourage property owners to return housing stock back into use whether it’s for your own use or for rental purposes.
  • The Incremental Tenant Purchase Scheme eligibility criteria were changed so more people can apply to purchase the local authority home they live in.
  • The government has also provided funding for the purchase of turnkey homes to boost the supply of housing, which will then be sold at discounted prices to first-time buyers. This funding is targeted towards incomplete housing developments with planning permission.

In addition to promoting these schemes there is also another one that is within the remit of Dublin City Council, the purchasing of turnkey homes.

The first step that would need to be taken is to conduct a comprehensive inventory of vacant and derelict properties across Dublin. This involves working closely with local communities to identify properties in need of attention. By understanding the extent and nature of the problem, we can develop targeted strategies to address specific areas of concern.

I believe in streamlining regulatory processes to facilitate the redevelopment of vacant properties. This includes expediting planning permission, reducing bureaucratic barriers, and providing technical assistance to property owners navigating the redevelopment process. By making it easier and more cost-effective to repurpose vacant properties, we can accelerate the revitalization of underutilized areas and promote economic growth and community development.

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

There are many things we can do.

Community policing initiatives and promoting community watch programs can significantly contribute to improving safety. WhatsApp groups can be effective in alerting people to events and issues in the area. Involving An Garda Síochána in those WhatsApp groups, especially in areas with higher crime statistics, can facilitate rapid communication about safety concerns, and promote collaboration in addressing community-specific issues.

But another important move would be to improve safety by having adequate street lighting. I have been pushing for the installation of dimmer switches in streetlights. This would increase visibility in the evening time for when people are travelling home from work and would also address concerns about light pollution. By adjusting the brightness of the streetlights at different times of the day, we can increase safety without compromising people’s comfort at home.

Implementing targeted crime prevention strategies based on data-driven analysis of crime hotspots and trends is essential for effectively addressing safety concerns. Having Garda visibility in certain areas can help towards prevention. This proactive approach enables An Garda Síochána to allocate resources efficiently, prioritize interventions, and collaborate with local communities to address underlying factors contributing to crime.

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

I can answer this in three words: Build Metro Link. It is deeply frustrating to see it delayed so many times. I genuinely fear that I might be retired by the time it is complete!

However, I don’t completely agree with its current plans. I firmly believe that we need a Metro Link for the Southwest area (through Rathmines and Rathgar, towards Firhouse). The addition of this line will not only prevent the closure of the LUAS Green Line for 5 years, but it will alleviate the pressure on the Green Line once it is complete. People commuting to Dublin and availing of the Luas ‘Park and Ride’ service will be able to avail of a much faster and more efficient service in the Metro Link.

If I had the powers to do so, I would very quickly scrap the Leap card and move to a simple tap-and-go system, similar to the system used on the London Underground and elsewhere. It is far cheaper and much more efficient to use. It is also easier for tourists to navigate their way around the city.

I would also like to advocate for a school transport ticket, where second level students can avail of free public transport for travelling to and from school. This would alleviate pressure on the roads with fewer school runs in the car. School Bus tickets are commonplace in the country where school buses are free of charge, Dublin-based students must not be neglected.

It is also extremely important that we have adequate cycling infrastructure. Sometimes this comes down to not just a segregated cycle lane, but the condition of the roads. Potholes are frustrating for drivers, but even more for cyclists who risk punctures and even life-threatening situations where they have to swerve out of the way to avoid potholes. The edges of the roads which cyclists frequently use are often neglected and suffer the worst damage. I would advocate strongly for the resurfacing of roads in this regard.

When the council is resurfacing the roads, it is important that it is done right. Sometimes, the newly resurfaced road could result in localised flooding where water has nowhere to escape to where there is no declined surface for water to flow away. It is important that these issues are considered as I have seen too many resurfaced roads with these issues unaddressed. More frequent drainage shores along the road could solve this issue.

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

Dublin City falls short on its pedestrian infrastructure. A quick glance at our European neighbours, and the shortfall becomes even more apparent. The pedestrian crossing times on main roads, such as Donnybrook, are not adequate for many older citizens.

One thing I would be strongly in favour of is for more open pedestrian spaces. In many European cities, there are plenty of accessible open spaces. For example, I would be in favour of removing the fencing around Stephen’s Green to make the park more accessible from all directions (similar to Eyre Square in Galway) and to restrict closing times for the park. I think it is a great public amenity as it is, but we can improve it.

In addition to creating more open spaces, we need to ensure that there are more seating areas. During the pandemic, it was made all too clear how inaccessible Dublin city was with very few seating areas.

I would also be in favour of completely pedestrianising certain streets around Dublin, however, we must exercise caution as we need to ensure the city remains to be accessible for people with mobility issues who cannot travel far without a car.

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 type of behaviour is completely unacceptable, and a zero-tolerance approach should be taken.

I believe in fostering a culture of inclusivity and celebrating the diversity of our city. As a community, we must actively promote tolerance, acceptance, and respect for individuals from all backgrounds, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or immigration status. This includes supporting initiatives that celebrate cultural diversity, hosting events that promote intercultural dialogue, and highlighting the contributions of immigrant communities to Dublin and Ireland.

It's essential to confront hate speech and disinformation propagated by far-right groups and extremists. I would strongly support a public advertising campaign by Dublin City Council to combat hate speech and disinformation. It is hugely important that people are educated with media literacy skills to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate news.

Building trust and rapport with marginalized communities is essential for addressing their unique needs and concerns. I support investing in community outreach programs, social services, and support networks for immigrants, LGBTQ+ individuals, and asylum-seekers, providing them with access to essential resources, including housing, healthcare, legal assistance, and mental health support.