I was formally co-opted to replace Rebecca Moynihan on 8 June 2020 and over the past year have worked tirelessly to represent the people of the South West Inner City, in what has been a very difficult period for many.
Having my first year as a Councillor in the midst of a pandemic has been a challenging but very rewarding experience, and I have learned a lot from working closely with Senator Moynihan, Labour colleagues on Dublin City Council and indeed the rest of my colleagues in the South West Inner City, particularly Cllrs. Devine, MacVeigh and Pidgeon.
Since coming on to the Council, I have engaged with residents and community groups across the Dublin 8 area, particularly around major projects such as the redevelopment of the Player Wills, Bailey Gibson and St. Teresa’s Garden sites, the National Children’s Hospital construction project at St. James’s and the regeneration of the former St. Michael’s Estate in Inchicore.
These are all massive projects with huge potential for Dublin 8, but it is essential that residents and local communities are able to engage along the way, and crucially, that local views are listened to and taken on board.
Further, I have been very active on the quality of accommodation that is being provided in the South West Inner City. Yes, we are in a housing crisis, but that does not mean we give the green light to developers to pack in inadequate and unsustainable accommodation types, such as co-living. I vocally opposed co-living developments on Cork Street, as part of the Player Wills development and in Old Kilmainham.
Unfortunately, we were only successful in stopping one of these developments, the Old Kilmainham one, but broader political pressure meant that Housing Minister, Darragh O’Brien, gave in an eventually banned co-living. On this, something I remain very concerned about is the possible conversion of student accommodation in co-living at a later date. This is something I continue to monitor and keep an eye on.
As someone who has grown up in this area and played all different kinds of sport including football, GAA and rugby, I am committed through my role as a member of the of DCC’s Arts, Culture, Recreation and Leisure SPC, to improve the sporting amenities on offer in the South West Inner City. We have paved the way for the development of an all-weather, multipurpose pitch as part of the redevelopment of St. Teresa’s Gardens, thanks to the dedication and commitment of the Sporting Liberties organisation.
There is so much more to be done in this respect, especially across our flat complexes to improve the quality, and crucially, the management of the pitches we provide. This remains a high priority for me and something I’ll be working on over the coming years.
Finally, something I have been working on over recent weeks is Dublin’s preparation for an outdoor summer. In the longer-term, we need to provide public toilets and seating areas for people spending time in the city – people shouldn’t have to be paying customers to use toilets or find places to sit. I am in favour of footpath widening and reallocating our road space for pedestrians, but we have to strike the balance between supporting businesses and jobs by providing for outside dining and just providing basic public services and public spaces.
In the shorter-term, I have supported temporary measures brought in under ‘COVID Mobility’ to pedestrianise Capel Street and Parliament Street and other streets around the Grafton Street area. I appreciate there are accessibility concerns but would argue now is the time to make roads and streets more available for people, not cars. While many of these projects are on a temporary or trial basis, I think Dublin as a city could hugely benefit from developing and enhancing its outside dining culture. Making the space available for this to be possible is a crucial first step but I accept there are issues around the unpredictability of Irish weather and so on and therefore would be interested in examining seasonal footpath widening/pedestrianisation from May-September each year in our city centre.
Over the coming months and years, I will continue to work on the above and much more. Get in touch if you have any queries or suggestions.