A community is only as strong as the people in it. If people feel unwelcome on our streets then our sense of community is lost.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that if you design for people, you get people. For Dublin to be a city that everyone can enjoy, we need to unpick decades of car-centric design, make space for people on our streets, make space for nature in our urban environments, and save the cultural spaces that make the city unique. As we work to make our city climate-resilient, now is the time to build in the changes that will make it a better city to live in.
A city for people: In my 15 years living in the South Inner City, I’ve seen the quality of life of Dubliner’s being diminished. I’ve seen more and more of our streets given over to cars. I’ve seen the artists and creatives who brought life and imagination to empty buildings pushed out. I’ve seen the return of bedsits and the advent of co-living. I’ve seen public spaces become less people-friendly: every pedestrian crossing that gives you 30 seconds to cross the road is an elderly person who can’t get to the shops. Every car that’s parked on a pavement is a child that can’t play safely on their street. A community is only as strong as the people in it, and if people feel unwelcome on our streets, our sense of community is lost.
An affordable city: There’s no responsibility I take more seriously as a councillor than working to ensure that Dublin gets new, quality housing so that everyone has access to home they can afford and the things they need to have a good life. During my time as a councillor I’m proud to have supported the delivery of what will be the first cost rental homes in Kimmage Rathmines, I’ve stood firm in my opposition to co-living and other inappropriate development, and I will always support social and public housing.
A green city: Kimmage Rathmines in particular has a high proportion of low-quality, under-utilsied green spaces. It’s time to invest in our collective future and reimagine what these spaces can offer to our communities. They can become thriving oases of biodiversity in highly urbanised areas, they can teach us about climate action, the importance of wildlife and the value of nature. And best of all they can offer us spaces to relax, connect and enjoy time in our communities together.
A cycling city: The potential for Dublin to become a cycling city is ours for the taking. If we made sure it was safe for every child in Dublin to cycle to school, by designing for our most vulnerable road users we would by default shape a city that people of all ages and abilities could move around safely in without the need of a car. By encouraging people to walk and cycle when they can, we can free up road space for those who need to drive and create a quieter, less gridlocked city with cleaner air.
A connected city: The Covid crisis has fostered a greater sense of community in many areas, and local access and connectivity has never been more vital. As we emerge from the Covid crisis while continuing to deal with a climate emergency, it is clear that we cannot accept a return to a gridlocked city with chronic car-dependency, ever-worsening air quality, and poor walking and cycling infrastructure. The imperative to offer safe, sustainable and low-carbon transport options has never been more urgent, but a connected city requires a network of transport options that move people around as well as into the city. I believe in an integrated transport solution for Dublin; one that creates an opportunity to reimagine our city and plan for a future where Dublin is a connected, climate-resilient capital where streets are for people and private car ownership is an option not a necessity.
I joined the Green Party in 2018 after my involvement in our local Together for Yes campaign showed me that when grassroots activism meets political persuasion, anything is possible. I was desperate to keep knocking on doors and speaking to people about the other issues that mattered to me: the threat of climate breakdown. the collapse of our natural world, growing social inequality, and the injustice of a city that was failing to provide for its people on key quality of life issues like affordable housing, a thriving cultural scene, accessible green spaces, and safe, people-friendly streets. In February 2020 I was co-opted onto Dublin City Council and since then I have been working with my Green colleagues to deliver all of those things, for Kimmage Rathmines and for the city at large. I chair Dublin City Council’s Local Community Development Committee and sit on the Traffic and Transport SPC, along with the Walking and Cycling sub-committee. I’m a communications professional and had been working as a journalist before my climate activism brought me to the Green Party.