Zoe Obeimhen

Independent candidate for South West Inner City

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

As a local activist, I spearheaded the development of 57 social housing units, known as Bonham Court (completed 2023), as part of the Bridgefoot Street Park campaign.

[Note: Asked to clarify, Obeimhen said she advocated for the site where the flats now stand to be zoned to include land for housing, intended to provide passive surveillance of the new park.]  

I have a track record of getting social housing, and accompanying parks and playgrounds built. I am also working on an online guide to navigating the council housing list/system in DCC. I also want to work on digitising the DCC council housing transfer list.

I also support choice-based lettings (CBL) as a faster way to allocate social housing. I support more affordable owner occupier housing, and long term social housing being built in Dublin South Central, not just transient ‘commercial housing’ like hotels and student accommodation.

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

I live in council housing and I've noticed the lack of a straightforward procedure for reporting maintenance issues like black mould or broken doors. The current approach is largely reactive, with residents often turning to local councillors for help. Many end up paying for repairs themselves, which isn't feasible for everyone. A clear, digital system for reporting issues, similar to the innovation seen with housing associations like Circle Housing's tenant maintenance portal, is urgently needed for efficiency and accessibility.

I also lived in the private rented sector from 1998 to 2009, in awful conditions including a room with no window for 7 years. Thankfully the RTB was set up in 2004, and rogue slum landlords are increasingly coming under pressure in the inner city. Any private rented issues should be checked on the RTB website. I have reported hundreds of private rented housing issues to the RTB and DCC for local residents in Dublin 8.

I would suggest everyone living in private rented accommodation, consider putting their name down on the social housing list. I was very grateful to get a council flat in 2009, and then a long term affordable council house.

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

Since 2013, I've led clean up efforts in Oliver Bond Flats (where I lived for 10 years) and Inchicore, sparked by the neglect I witnessed first-hand.

Realising the need for a cultural shift away from accepting filth, especially for our children's sake, I've identified key solutions:

I support reinstating all the public bins that have been removed in Dublin 8, to help dog owners dispose of dog waste responsibly.

What would you do to help tackle vacancy and dereliction?

Tackling vacancy and dereliction necessitates a comprehensive strategy that combines cutting-edge policy initiatives with local community involvement. The existing derelict sites list and vacant sites list kept by DCC need to be proactively managed and enforced.

The successful transformation of the rundown, derelict Bridgefoot Street area into an award-winning urban park (opened 2022) demonstrates the potential for derelict sites, to be turned into community green spaces, housing, community gardens, playgrounds etc. My efforts, such as a social media campaign for derelict The Iveagh Markets, https://www.facebook.com/IveaghMarkets underscore the importance of building public support and keeping the challenges of dereliction visible.

Addressing land speculation through effective tax measures and improving the efficiency of Dublin City Council's housing and planning procedures with digital solutions is critical to speeding up the transformation of derelict areas. Despite my reporting numerous derelict sites in Dublin 8, challenges persist due to loopholes. A holistic strategy that merges legislative changes with community engagement is essential for revitalising Dublin 8, transforming unused and dilapidated areas into vibrant centres of community life.

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

In this question, I concentrate on my own area of Dublin 8.

In 2019 criminologist Dr John Connolly of the University of Limerick published the report ‘Building Community Resilience’ focused on the Dublin South Central area. This comprehensive report offers an array of strategies aimed at bolstering safety and integrating policy reforms with actionable community engagement for tangible improvements.

I will support the implementation of the key findings of this expert report on Dublin 8:

  • Trauma-Aware Response: Advocates for an approach that understands the deep-seated causes behind crime and antisocial behaviour, suggesting that addressing these issues at their root can lead to more effective solutions.
  • Restorative Practices: Proposes establishing Dublin South Central as a leader in restorative practices, utilising both national and global methods to mitigate safety concerns, reflecting a commitment to evidence-based solutions. 
  • Community Crime Impact Assessment: Recommends assessments using a variety of data and community insights to gain a nuanced understanding of crime patterns, aiding in the evaluation of intervention effectiveness.
  • Improved Communication and Engagement: Highlights the necessity of enhancing communication channels between law enforcement, local governance, and the community, advocating for accessible crime data and encouraging active civic participation.
  • Local Policing and Community Safety Team: Suggests creating a focused team to oversee safety strategies, emphasising training, problem-solving, and the application of restorative practices.
  • Human Rights-Based Approach: Stresses the importance of a strategy that respects the rights and dignity of all community members, balancing safety initiatives with civil liberties.

I regularly engage in the community safety forum quarterly meetings in Dublin 8 and 12. My advocacy also extends to improving urban design for safety, including campaigns for better street lighting and urban planning that prioritises women’s safety. Supporting initiatives like the Building Community Resilience report and advocating for school expansions, I champion the belief that fostering positive environments for children is fundamental to cultivating a safer community. These strategies, underscored by proactive community involvement and targeted policy advocacy, aim to significantly enhance urban safety, promoting overall community well-being and resilience in Dublin South Central.

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

My dedication to enhancing public transport in Dublin 8 has been consistent. 

I've actively engaged with J C Decaux regarding bus shelter maintenance, regularly reporting graffiti issues over the past three years. Despite facing obstacles, such as reaching a dead-end while lobbying the NTA for new bus shelters in Inchicore, I remain committed to improving our community's transport infrastructure. That's why I seek the community's mandate to lobby the NTA as an elected Councillor for more bus shelters across Dublin 8, 10, and 12. 

In the Dart + South West line consultations, I identified a significant 3 km gap between Cherry Orchard station and Heuston West (a new station), which I deemed unfair. Through grassroots efforts, I gathered 250 individual submissions advocating for a new Dart station at Kylemore in Ballyfermot. I'm pleased to announce that a feasibility study for this station is underway, reflecting my vision for a more inclusive and expansive public transport network in our area.

I'm a firm believer in making public transport accessible to all. While many can benefit from tax-efficient commuter travel cards or social welfare ‘free travel’ cards, urban school children are often overlooked. I'm committed to lobbying for subsidies or free travel for urban children during term time, akin to the rural school transport scheme, ensuring equitable access to education. Additionally, I'll push for every bus shelter in Dublin 8, 10, and 12 to have a public bin, promoting cleanliness. I also support a new Garda public transport unit.

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

To enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety in Dublin, several strategic measures can be undertaken. 

Firstly, addressing organised bike theft through heightened law enforcement and community awareness initiatives is essential. Additionally, providing financial support to primary and secondary schools in Dublin 8 to install secure bike parking facilities will encourage more students to cycle, thereby reducing traffic congestion and pollution. Advocating for free school bus passes for children and youth will further alleviate traffic by promoting the use of public transportation. 

Investing in public transportation infrastructure, including expanding cycling lanes and improving pedestrian pathways, will provide safer alternatives to driving for short-distance trips. Educational campaigns aimed at fostering pedestrian and cyclist safety, along with community engagement in urban planning decisions, will ensure inclusivity and responsiveness to local needs. By implementing these measures, a safer and more pedestrian-friendly city environment can be cultivated, encouraging a shift towards walking and cycling as preferred modes of transport.

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

To counter the surge in far-right sentiments, anti-immigrant hostility, and attacks against marginalised communities like the LGBTQ+ and asylum-seekers, both short-term and long-term strategies are imperative. 

In the immediate time frame, I would prioritise encouraging victims to report incidents through accessible platforms like INAR for racist incidents https://inar.ie/ireport-racism-reporting-system/ or directly to the Gardaí for hate crimes https://www.garda.ie/en/reportahatecrime/. Garda response times can be slow. 

Personally, I had to get a guard dog in 2021, as a deterrent after an unprovoked, identity-based attack on my home. Guard dogs can also help in deterring burglary. Many families in Dublin 8 are choosing to send their children to martial arts classes to learn self-defence. Raising public awareness about the prevalence and detrimental effects of hate crimes is paramount, emphasising the significance of reporting and seeking assistance in emergency situations through dedicated hotlines like 999.