Exclusive Interviews: What candidates stand for in upcoming Dublin Bay South By-Election

by Amy Rohu

Amy Rohu

The Dublin Bay South by-election is looming and candidates are gathering their supporters on the campaign trail in the hope of being returned the constituency’s next Dáil deputy. Although it will be a quick campaign this time, as the by-election had been confirmed for July 8.

The Dublin Bay South seat became free earlier this year when former Fine Gael Minister and TD Eoghan Murphy resigned. 

The polls are being watched closely for this pivotal election, with Sinn Fein currently in the lead, – a surprise to many, given that Dublin Bay South is a more traditional, wealthy suburb. 

The area has been described as a Fine Gael stronghold but issues such as homelessness, the housing crisis and climate change could shake up the results of this election.

In this by-election special, Amy Rohu brings you interviews with the Dublin Bay South candidates  and outlines their aspirations of what they would do if elected.

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Brigid Purcell – PB4P

Who is Brigid Purcell? – I am a 25-year-old worker and People Before Profit’s candidate.. I have a background in the service industry as a bartender and waitress, spent the lockdown working as a cashier in a supermarket, and currently work in Animation.I became involved in party politics during my involvement with the Debenhams picket, where I supported the striking workers in the fight for their agreed upon redundancy.  I am focused on issues that matter most to workers: expanding workers rights, housing, and the environment.

What is the most important issue for this constituency? 

Obviously housing is the most important issue in this constituency. Dublin Bay South contains a huge amount of renters, who really are not represented in the Dáil, and that is reflected in the protections afforded renters – very few. 

How would you plan to address the issue?

I’m committed to introducing real rent control that lowers our rents, reforming the RTB to provide proper protections for renters, and providing high quality public and affordable housing by banning vulture funds entirely as the have done in New Zealand, and using our banks of public land to build. 

Describing your campaign in three words.

Vibrant, Fighting, Fair.

Claire Byrne – GP

Who is Claire Byrne?

I’m the councillor for the South East inner city and a mother to two small boys. I have 16 years of professional experience in policy-making, and sustainability consulting. As a councillor I delivered the Dublin City Climate Action Plan and as a TD I will help reach Ireland’s climate goals, revolutionise attitudes to waste, make transport sustainable and safe, and rethink Dublin as an inclusive, livable and family-friendly city.

What is the most important issue for this constituency?

It’s time to restore and reimagine our city. Dublin Bay South is rich in heritage and culture but the shortage of affordable housing puts tremendous stress on families and makes our area a less vibrant and diverse place.  Dublin Bay South should be a great place to grow up in, and to grow old in. There are three key important issues that need to be addressed at a national level and not just at a local level: Climate, Housing and Culture. 

How do you plan on addressing this issue? 

Implementing the Climate Action Plan so that we reach our climate goals, protect our natural heritage and biodiversity, and improve our quality of life. If elected, I will work hard to end homelessness long term and focus on improving standards of and access to emergency housing in the short term. 

It is also important that we protect renters and legislate for indefinite duration and strengthen controls on rent increases to provide security of tenure for all stages of life. 

Describe your campaign in three words.

Determined, passionate, effective.

Deirdre Conroy FF 

Who is Deirdre Conroy? – I’ve been self-employed for over 20 years, working hard on planning, housing and heritage issues and writing about them in the media during that period. 

I’m a Fianna Fáil councillor since 2019 in the Kimmage Rathmines Local Electoral Area, but I help people in all parts of Dublin Bay South. I’m a mum of two grown-up sons and a qualified barrister. 

What is the most important issue for this constituency? 

There are several important issues in the constituency but for me housing and transport stand out prominently. 

How do you plan to address this issue? 

Fianna Fail came into government almost a year ago and introduced the largest housing budget and most ambitious housing targets in the history of the state. The Affordable Housing Bill 2021, most comprehensive, affordable housing Bill in the history of the State, will deliver housing. It includes the first scheme of direct state-built affordable homes in over a decade, the first ever national scheme to provide delivery of Cost Rental housing and the New Affordable Purchase Shared Equity scheme where the State will help first time buyers purchase homes in private developments. 

Right now there are thousands of derelict and vacant properties throughout Dublin and Ireland that could be brought back into use as housing if the legislation can be changed to aid this process. 

I’m also a strong advocate of extending the proposed MetroLink underground from St. Stephen’s Green to Rathgar, Terenure and Templeogue. 

Describe your campaign in three words. 

Positive. Hard-working. Knowledgeable. 

Ivana Bacik – LAB

Who is Ivana Bacik?  -I’m a campaigner, a teacher and legislator. I live in Portobello with my family and am passionate about improving our community. All my life I have been an advocate for equality and fairness, and am proud to have played a local and national role, along with many others, on critical campaigns that have changed Ireland for the better.

What is the most important issue for this constituency?

Housing – without a doubt. We are hearing concerns about housing across the entire constituency. The housing crisis impacts deeply on people’s quality of life, and their mental health. 

This government does not have a housing policy.  It bungles along from crisis to crisis, always following, never leading.

We need radical change. We need secure, affordable housing delivered through public investment.  And we need to protect renters from exorbitant rents and ensure that anyone who is homeless has access to safe, appropriate accommodation.

How do you plan to address this issue? 

My party colleagues and I have been arguing for a significant increase in public investment in housing.  We need to build 80,000 houses on public land over the next five years.  The funding is now available at historically low interest rates.  It’s time to stop delaying, and to start building the affordable homes that people need.

Describe your campaign in three words – Change, Tenacity, Experience.

James Geoghegan – FG

Who is James Geoghegan?

I’m 36, a practicing barrister, a member of Dublin City Council, a husband and father to two boys. 

What is the most important issue for this constituency?

The future of young people, and ensuring that we create a livable Dublin that keeps young people here and supports young people most in need.

How do you plan to address this issue?

Smart investment in community, childcare, education, primary healthcare and our work environment, making Dublin a 15 Minute City and delivering affordable homes to purchase and rent at scale. The biggest opportunity for affordable homes delivered in this constituency is on the Glass Bottle Site in Poolbeg where over 900 affordable and social homes will be built. 

Describe your campaign in three words.

Youth, 15-Minutes, Opportunity.

Lynn Boylan – SF

Who is Lynn Boylan? – First and foremost I’m a social justice activist and a campaigner. I’ve been passionate about human rights, politics and social justice issues since I was a teenager, that is what motivated me to get involved in electoral politics. 

What is the most important issue for this constituency? 

Housing, every aspect of housing, from homelessness, to the private rental sector, the precarious nature of it, the cost of it, the lack of affordable housing and the local authority lists and the inability of people to move out of their parents house. 

How do you plan to address this issue?

What SF has done is set out very clear costed alternatives to the governments approach to housing. This is around public housing and public lands, about reducing rents and setting a rent freeze, building affording homes on public land, and real affordable, not just affordable in name, and then having the housing first policy to address the homeless situation as well. Fundamentally it is about affordable housing, public housing and public land. 

Describe your campaign in three words.

Energetic, Positive, Change.

Mannix Flynn – IND

Who is Mannix Flynn? – I’m a Dubliner, a professional artist, a professional activist and also a politician representing Dublin Bay South and indeed the wider Dublin population. 

What is the most important issue for this constituency? 

I think you can’t separate this constituency from what’s actually taking place within the city and the most important things that are taking place in the city are the changes that are happening in an undemocratic fashion. Like for instance, the issues around the cycle ways and pedestrianisation without the full consent of everybody. 

With the massive changes that have taken place in the city in a very unplanned nature, I think people are beginning to feel very disconnected so I think the feel of the city should be a city that’s reconnected to itself and to its people and at the moment it’s very disconnected. 

How would you plan to address the issue? 

I think the way you address the issue is by honesty. We need to grow up, we need to mature. While we have a housing crisis we have a major problem with dilapidation, and I really do think our attention should be making sure our population are accommodated. The negative is the new positive in Dublin at the moment, we aren’t housing our homeless, we aren’t dealing with our drug addicts, we aren’t dealing with our social issues, we are just simply not dealing with them and we’re burying our head in the sand. 

Describe your campaign in three words.

Honest, Vision and Integrity. 

Mairead Tóibín – AONTU

Who is Mairead Tóibín – I am first of all a mom, but also a healthcare professional. I work as a pharmacist in a HSE run nursing home. But most relevantly, I’m a citizen who is dismayed at the widening gap of inequality in our society. 

What is the most important issue for this constituency?

Housing is the biggest issue facing this constituency and indeed the  country. It is a collection of crises – the spiralling costs of rent, homelessness, families growing up in emergency accommodation and the dearth of houses for private sale.

How do you plan to address this issue? 

Firstly we need rent caps. Secondly we need to build social housing, a lot of social housing. The HAP programme is simply contributing to the problem of scarcity of private rented accommodation and the inflation of rents, and it is not solving our homelessness problem. 

Young people cannot afford to buy homes. Pragmatically, the only solution is a government-sponsored programme of building adequate housing stock. Thirdly private houses need to be built. All houses that are built provide housing solutions. All increase supply. All influence prices and can reduce rent inflation. Finally we urgently need to ban overseas bulk investment in Irish homes. Our own citizens cannot complete with these investors who do not view housing as homes or places for families to grow, but as assets or places to park capital.

Describe your campaign in three words

Common-sense. Compassionate. Consistent.

Peter Dooley – Independent

Who is Peter Dooley? – I am an Independent candidate in a constituency where my family goes back generations. I’m passionate about standing up for tenants rights, having co-founded Dublin Renters’ Union in 2017. I worked with the community to organise the campaign to prevent the 200+ bed Co-Living development at Kenilworth in Harold’s Cross and successfully campaigned for new public bus routes. 

What is the most important issue for this constituency?

Housing – rents are out-of-control, evictions are rampant. Many people are living in vastly overcrowded conditions & many more have moved in with family members as the prospect of having a secure and affordable home to call your own is a far-off dream. Many Dublin City Council apartment complexes are very badly maintained. 

How do you plan to address this issue? 

I believe housing is a social good and propose the following solutions, Ban Evictions and a Rent Freeze until the crisis is eased, Long-term leases for tenants and rents index-linked to inflation, Build Public housing on Public Land, Stop the sell-off of Council Housing and Re-Invest in the upkeep of existing council homes, Tax Vacant Homes to increase rental supply, Land Value Tax to stop land speculation, Tax the Vultures to make housing affordable and Community-Led planning.

Describe your campaign in three words.

Strong, Serious, Principled.

Sarah Durcan – SOCDEMS

Who is Sarah Durcan? – As an activist arts and science worker, and member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am not the typical kind of politician in Dublin Bay South. My career over 20 years has always been about making the improbable possible. I would like to do this in politics.

What is the most important issue for this constituency?

Housing – a vote for a government TD is a vote of confidence in its failed housing policy. If people want to see change, then they must vote for change.

How do you plan to address this issue? 

We need to build public housing on public land; dramatically increase capital investment in housing; introduce a temporary rent-freeze, and rental caps for new developments, to stop runaway rents; enact a vacant site tax that actually works and a vacant property tax to free up supply; end the free-for-all for investment funds in the acquisition of apartments in Dublin.

Describe your campaign in three words

Determined, Energetic, Hopeful.

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