Blueprint to develop Dublin as a sustainable city for living and working

05 February 2020

Labour Party Leader, Brendan Howlin TD, and Cllr Joe Costello, Labour Party Spokesperson on Urban Regeneration launched proposals to develop  Dublin as a Sustainable City for Working and Living to address  the issues of environmental sustainability, economic growth, and social cohesion.

Joe Costello said that “the time had come for all of us to stop and reflect.    For the first time in history we have tilted the direction of our planet.  Our insatiable need to produce more, accumulate more and consume more is interfering with the natural order of things.   We have pushed out the boundaries everywhere.  We have explored and exploited.  We are creating greenhouse gases and carbon emissions that are unsustainable. Man-made climate change is accelerating.  Our rivers, lakes and oceans struggle to cope. Our very biodiversity is under threat.  And of course, we are threatening our own survival because we are threatening the only planet we have – Planet Earth (There is no Planet B!).

“We are consuming a colossal 50% more than the earth can sustain at present.  In 20 years if we continue as today we will be consuming the equivalent of  two planet earths!   We cannot go on like this.  We must manage our lives and our environment better.  We must consider our behaviour and what steps we need to make our individual footprint carbon neutral.  We must now review, rethink and redirect our actions to create a sustainable city.

The development of Sustainable Communities demands a more cross-cutting and integrated vision of the urban regeneration process.  The development of urban villages and neighbourhoods must be equal to the pursuit of environmental sustainability.  A holistic approach needs to be taken to urban renewal incorporating housing, public transport, employment, crime and policing, health, the arts and community development. 

Ireland has suffered from a lack of vision in spatial planning. It has suffered too from a lack of coherence in administration.  Dublin has become bloated, sprawling all over the neighbouring counties of Wicklow, Kildare, Meath and Louth.  The problems are well documented:

  • Our local authorities and Government have long stopped building homes for those who cannot afford their own and now the country is experiencing a sustained crisis of housing and homelessness. Young people cannot afford to buy or even rent in the communities where they grew up.
  • Our public transport system is on perennial life-support, in danger of collapsing from lack of investment and from Government lack of vision.
  • Our urban neighbourhoods are neglected allowing crime, anti-social behaviour and drug-related activity to blight many communities.
  • The trend towards precarious work with low pay prevent is increasing leaving workers  with few rights. Secure, sustainable employment must be at the heart of a healthy City.

As Spokesperson on Urban Renewal, Cllr Joe Costello, has put together a holistic policy document for the regeneration of Dublin.   It focuses on sixmain pillars and the central tenets of the policy document have been adopted in Labour’s Manifesto for Building and Equal Society. 

These include:

  1. Housing: Building 80,000 homes in five years through a €16 billion fund and establishing Housing Executives, accountable to elected Councillors, to restore the capacity of local government to build.
  2. Public Transport: Investment  in clean public transport and cycling infrastructure and dedicate 10% of the national transport budget to the development of cycling and walking infrastructure
  3. Community Development: Create a new merged Department of Communities, Arts and Tourism.  Fund urban regeneration and development projects, and foster community bodies and social enterprises focused on community development work
  4. Crime & Policing: Work to promote local policing forums and a community policing model, establish local commissions to deal with violent drug gangs and increase funding to the Drug and Alcohol Task Forces,
  5. Secure and Sustainable Employment: Labour will raise the minimum wage to be a real living wage and will guarantee everyone the right to be represented at work by a trade union.
  6. The Arts:  Redirect arts funding towards outreach initiatives, create a fund which will support artists, require cultural institutions and libraries to be open some evenings and weekends and  encourage museums and galleries to engage with Ireland’s new communities.

Cllr Costello pointed out that the motto of Dublin City is “Obedientia Civium Urbis Felicitas”  loosely translated as “The Obedience of the Citizens is the  Happiness of the City”. The role of the citizen portrayed in this motto clearly reflects another era and is now inappropriate.   The motto should now be revisited and reformulated to state that the happiness of the city is achieved through the active participation of the citizens in the life of the city.  This is true of all towns and cities and should be a guiding principle of urban renewal.

Commending Joe Costello on his work as spokesperson on Urban Regeneration, Labour Party Leader, Brendan Howlin said that  “It is time to redesign, restructure and reclaim our towns and cities. It is time to put people and  communities first.”

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