Tamara Kearns

Sinn Féin candidate for Donaghmede

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

More social and affordable housing is one of my main priorities and not just for this campaign, but it has been for over a decade now. Since I have had my own lived experience of homelessness and long waiting lists. Unfortunately, I am in the age bracket where it is impossible to think that I would ever own my own home. I also have 3 children who I also fear will have the same experience with housing when they are old enough to want to live independently. 

Therefore, as a Sinn Féin councillor and as a mother, I will fight until I cannot, for more social and affordable housing. I joined Sinn Féin because of their housing policies and our proposals to

  • Build 21,000 new homes p/a. 
  • Put a month's rent back into the people’s pockets.
  • Introduce temporary mortgage interest relief.

I will also ensure that an equal distribution of these homes is planned in any future developments to include traveller, accessible and elderly accommodation. The tenant in situ scheme needs to be quicker and allocated a bigger budget. The rates of buying a house have increased significantly and the DCC need to be able to match it.

When it comes to homeless services, I meet people every day through homelessness and I help them navigate the services and advocate for them. I have had people (families with children, single people etc.) who are refused accommodation until an assessment date – leaving them to sleep on the streets or in their cars (if they have one) and wait for an outreach team to arrive that night to source accommodation, or a sleeping bag in most cases. I promise to keep working with people, but as a councillor – I promise to work with the council to secure more accommodation availability with the correct supports in place that people with a pregnancy/addiction and everything else need.

Homelessness is traumatising, no matter your situation – I will fight for those supports to be there when they are needed most and ensure that people are not just left alone to deal with their situation.

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

This comes down to a lack of resources available and it is not considered a priority in budgets. 

I will ensure that it is a priority. I will fight for a bigger budget to be allocated to repairs and maintenance. DCC need to employ skilled tradespeople. Outsourcing is handy but, we have since learned it does not work efficiently. It’s silly really that this is not more of a priority, the longer something is left – the worse it gets. Meaning it will then cost even more to repair.

This includes the council taking responsibility for H/HAP tenancies too. 

Traveller accommodation needs serious investment from the council too. I have heard from and spoken to some of the women in my area and they have been calling for essential resources from the council and they are yet again left waiting. I will ensure that these issues are constantly in any housing maintenance motions I put forward.

In regards, to the private rental sector, the RTB need to play a pivotal role here in ensuring that lease agreements are met by not just the tenants, but the landlords too, when it comes to maintenance. A dedicated team needs to be implemented to deal exclusively with these issues.

I have seen situations where tenants have been excellent tenants but their landlord does not fulfil their end of the agreement by maintaining the property or expects the tenants to take on the maintenance (“because they live there”). 

Currently, it can take months to get anywhere with a complaint through the RTB. I have worked on cases where the deposit was a nightmare to get back because of this. Therefore, putting the tenant out of pocket for their new home.

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

I have seen the Instagram account of the nighttime crew from DCC out cleaning up the city centre and they work hard!

However, we need this locally too! Extending the team, recruiting more staff, and expanding the budget to do so is what I would fight for.

I have been to Budapest and they have some good ideas from what I’ve seen. There are bins everywhere. Hanging off the bus stop signs, attached to the shop walls – everywhere! I was impressed by how clean the city was.

I will take inspiration from this and fight for more bins, and more water stations around our locality (to reduce the plastic bottles). 

Regarding illegal dumping, we need more recycling centres. We need more of the mattress and bulky item collections. It’s essentially a need for a public waste service. I understand that some people cannot afford to dispose of waste through private waste services. The council need to understand this too.

When it comes to dog poo, again more bins are needed to tackle this. However, there also needs to be more wardens and fines. It’s a huge issue and totally not fair to those who are wheelchair-bound, blind or young children who may fall. We need a big campaign about it, but ultimately, people need to do their part. Hopefully, fighting for more wardens – will decrease this issue.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

We have had a housing crisis for a very long time, people crying out for homes, and we have derelict buildings… Again, the maintenance team I mentioned for repairs (above) is critical to keeping homes open and ready to move into. 10 years ago, I first talked about derelict and boarded-up houses (voids) and it still hasn’t been resolved. 

There is one house in my own constituency that really stands out to me, it’s been boarded up for about a year now. Works have started now, but that goes to show the length of time it takes to get around to it. That house should have been a home by now. There needs to be a time frame put in place and kept to. I’ve watched apartment blocks go up quicker than the turnover of DCC housing stock.

The council also needs to put in more effort to buy derelict buildings and make them secure social housing. There is also a lot of waste when houses are being done up for new tenants. This needs to stop too. I’m sure there are things that could be put to good use.

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

A team of dedicated community Gardaí who are involved in the community. I know that the community Garda in my constituency is working very hard on this at the moment. So, we need more initiatives for them to be involved in and we need more community gardaí in our station. We also need another station in our community.

However, we need an increase in local services too. More facilities for kids to have something to do. Well-lit and cctv’d public spaces. Increased transportation. The list goes on. We need to work with the community and see why the issues are arising and what we can all work on together to improve it.

More neighbourhood watch programmes would work but only if the community is invested in and the community policing is better connected to residents to build trust.

There are huge issues in my constituency around the use of drugs and drug related intimidation. People are afraid to go to the Garda about it, because there is little trust.

Issues like this start from a young age and we are severely under resourced in our community services (who have the tools). Our schools do not have sufficient programmes on a regular basis to tackle issues such as nitros oxide etc. They are trying and I see that, but there is a massive need to fund these projects. I will fight alongside the community on this and work with anyone who has any ideas on how to tackle it and reduce it.

Support services in the area for anyone who is experiencing addiction also need to be well funded.

We need a wraparound support system (that’s well funded) for the community and the community sector alongside the Gardai, that is what’s needed.

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

We need better transport links and more scheduled routes. We need cheaper fares to encourage people to use the services more and we need more security on transport and stations.

There are plenty of examples in other countries to show how we could make transport more efficient. We don’t have to think too outside the box to have it better here.

Services need to be more accessible too. Lifts at stations need to be constantly monitored and maintained. For instance, Clongriffin train station – the lifts are not reliable for those that rely upon them. This is not acceptable!

What I can assure the residents of Donaghmede is - I will work with you to fight for better services and accessibility.

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

In Donaghmede / Killbarrack we need more crossing points for pedestrians. Safer cycle lanes and footpaths. Some of the footpaths in this area are shocking and from talking with residents, the complaints have fallen on deaf ears. Even from my own perspective, when I’m out walking with my children and they have a fall because a path is dodgy.

I also witnessed after work one day – a man in his wheelchair having to use the road as there was no ramp for his wheelchair anywhere along his route.

We need a bigger investment in the use of electric bikes / scooters. Alongside this, there needs to be a safety campaign and education of the rules of the road for people using these vehicles.

More charging stations for personal bikes and bike hubs. We also need people to be able to feel safe and if that means asking for more lights, where the council think there is already enough – let’s just listen to those that are using those routes and spaces and do it!

If we want to reduce cars in our cities, we need to increase supply of all public transport to match.

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

There is a huge disconnect between people in our communities from all backgrounds and situations. The lack of resources invested into our communities by the government, time and time again has driven the political far right narrative, which has caused this.

I will continuously point out that everyone living in our communities are experiencing the same difficulties. Some worse than others, such as refugees and asylum seekers, whose conditions can be horrific.

I get that people are angry, I’m also angry! But, this far right political agenda is focusing on the wrong people to aim their anger at. The government have caused this hate. By not providing housing, health care and increasing our cost of living. Not investing in community supports and not helping communities prepare for such a large influx of people in a timely manner and neglecting those who were already here.

The people seeking refuge here are coming from already traumatising situations and those who have lived here already are dealing with their own issues and trauma too.

We should have a united front on this issue and align their housing need with ours. Their healthcare needs with ours.

As a person, regardless of elections, I will work with everyone to ensure a more socially inclusive environment for all. This, I will do by organising within the community and fighting for our needs together. Running events to introduce Irish citizens, asylum seekers, homeless people and families, migrants, the LGBTQ+ community to everyone. Events such as multi-cultural events and Educational events.

We also need to remember that people coming into Ireland have taken up jobs that serve our community. Even in our struggling healthcare systems – we have a diverse muti cultural workplace who care for everyone!

The arson attacks and assaults, the Garda need to work more proactively around this.

We are all human and deserve to live our lives peacefully. We are all human and deserve better from our government. We need to work on it together and get what our community needs to support everyone.