This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 20 °C Thursday 18 July, 2019
Advertisement

What matters to the voters of Dublin West?

It’s not all about water charges, you know.

James Connolly Hospital is coming up on doors across Dublin West
James Connolly Hospital is coming up on doors across Dublin West
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

WHEN VOTERS IN Dublin West go to the polls this Friday, they will not only decide who represents them at council and European level.

They will also decide their fourth Dáil representative in a by-election that was called just weeks ago. The short time-frame means that the election campaign has been dominated by the national news cycle, with jobs, water charges and the economy dominating.

But what are the local issues? And who is aiming to solve them?

Candidates:

  • Daniel Boyne (Fís Nua)
  • Eamonn Coghlan (Fine Gael)
  • Ruth Coppinger (Socialist Party)
  • Paul Donnelly (Sinn Féin)
  • David Hall (Independent)
  • John Kidd (Independent)
  • Sean Lyons (Independent)
  • David McGuinness (Fianna Fáil)
  • Loraine Mulligan (Labour Party)
  • Roderic O’Gorman (Green Party)

Dublin West fact-file:

Population:

Around 113,000 in total, with an electorate of around 65,000.

Borders:

From Clonee in the west to the Navan Road on the east and from Rivervalley in Swords on the north to Lucan on the south.

PastedImage-11832

Sitting TDs:

  • Joan Burton (Lab)
  • Joe Higgins (Socialist)
  • Leo Varadkar (FG)

Reason for the by-election: The resignation of Patrick Nulty. Nulty resigned from the Dáil after details of text messages he had sent to a 17-year-old were revealed by a Sunday paper.

The Issues:

So, what are the local issues? And how are people feeling?

On the ground, there is as much confusion as there is apathy. The snap nature of the election, coupled with Europeans and locals, means that attention is as limited as space on lampposts.

A recent survey by local radio station Phoenix FM found that 67 per cent of people intend to vote, but a startling amount had little faith in politicians.

38 per cent of those interviewed saying they had a very low rate of confidence in the Dublin West TDs. A significant percentage of people interviewed could not name many of their local TDs or councillors.

When candidates do get to doors, some issues that stand out are; housing, a hospital and a level crossing.

Housing

File photo: Daft report Source: Gareth Chaney/Photocall Ireland!

With the satellite town makeup of the town, it is unsurprising that housing is an issue.

Independent candidate John Kidd says that he has met people who are unable to move homes because of the collapse of the housing market, but cannot afford the houses they are in.

He is echoed by Green Party candidate Roderic O’Gorman, who says that social housing, negative equity and particularly the rental market are important issues.

“The cost of private rented accommodation has also increased, forcing people to move out of Dublin 15. This is also an issue for those on rent supplement – which is capped at €950 for a family of two adults and 3 children. €950 won’t get you very far in Dublin 15 if you are renting.”

Sinn Féin’s Paul Donnelly agrees.

“The housing crisis is the worst I have seen it in all the years I have been involved in constituency community work. There are families being forced into homeless services because the rents are rising and the rent allowance cap is static.”

James Connolly Hospital and health

JAMES CONNOLLY HOSPITALS SCENES STRUCTURE HEALTH SERVICE CRISIS Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

As long as it has been open, the protection of services at James Connolly Memorial Hospital has been an electoral issue.

Now, people are increasingly worried that the emergency department will be scaled back. Fianna Fáil’s David McGuinness says that it has come up time and again on the doors.

“Uncertainty over the future of the A&E Connolly Hospital has come up quite a bit.

“There is genuine concern locally that the future of the A&E is not secure and that strong local political support will be needed to protect it from being downgraded.

Independent David Hall says that it’s not just the hospital.

“Similarly, the ambulance station in Coolmine is under threat of being closed. This is a huge concern to the people I meet every day and they are very keen to hear from a candidate with first hand experience of dealing with the HSE and the ambulance service.”

Labour’s Loraine Mulligan is hearing about health as well.

“I want to see the development of primary care in the community in Dublin West. With such a huge demographic of young families, providing high quality health care in the community is a key concern for me.”

Safety

Hartstown shooting. Gardai and members Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

A number of candidates say that safety and crime are key concerns to people, particularly in certain parts of the constituency that have seen a spike in crime.

“There is a lot of concern about the rise in the number of burglaries in Dublin West,” says McGuinness.

“Incidents of smash a grab from cars has also come up quite a few times.”

Donnelly concurs, but says that it is localised to a few areas.

“Community safety is an issue although quite localised in some areas. Burglaries have been a consistent feature of life and of concern here in all areas despite the massive resources put in by the gardaí.”

Schools and youth affairs

Dublin West contains a massive number of schools, so it’s not surprising that people are worried about education. Fine Gael’s Eamonn Coghlan wants a programme that he proposed in the Seanad piloted across the constituency.

“My Points for Life policy is currently being piloted in a number of primary schools. Points for Life is about building a strong foundation for physical literacy and motor skills in children from a young age so as to help tackle childhood obesity and promote participation in sport. I want to see this introduced into our Primary Schools curriculum in Dublin West, and nationally.”

Mulligan says that, to borrow a phrase, there is much done and more to do.

“There has been a significant turnaround in many local schools as a result of the investment programme in new and refurbished buildings achieved by Labour in government.

“Examples include St Brigid’s NS in Castleknock rebuilt; new schools for Scoil Bríde in Blanchardstown; and new secondary schools for Ongar. I know there is more to be done, for example St Mochta’s Clonsilla, and St Patrick’s, Corduff.”

Porterstown Link Road

porterstown

One surprising issue that is coming up a lot is the proposed closure of a link road.

The Porterstown link road crosses the Royal Canal and the Connolly-Sligo rail tracks. In recent years, it has been replaced by a link bridge around 300 yards away, taking much of its traffic away.

However, it is still used locally for accessing schools on either side. But Transport Minister Leo Varadkar wants to close it, placing knife-edged fencing on either side of the tracks.

Residents have reacted angrily, with hundreds attending local meetings and candidates saying that it has come up on numerous doors.

Local resident Dave Hughes has led the campaign to keep the road open and he says that the recent plan to shelve the closure was a “cynical move”.

“The county manager shelved the plan until after the election, that’s why we’ve had to make sure that it keeps coming up on doors.”

Read: What matters to the voters of Longford-Westmeath?

Read: There’s a seat in the wild, wild (Dublin) west, but who can take it?

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

Read next:

COMMENTS (24)