New Dublin Lord Mayor Gilliland outlines priorities for year ahead
- Key themes for year ahead are community, housing and gender.
- Enhance local communities and work to make Dublin look and feel like a European city post-Covid.
- Pursue real long-term solution to homelessness, waiting lists and housing precarity with the provision of affordable housing.
- Champion issues directly impacting women and girls, and minorities in our city.
Speaking after her election as Lord Mayor of Dublin City Council, Labour Councillor Alison Gilliland outlined her priorities for the year ahead, saying:
“The last 15 months have been a really tough, and challenging time for all who live in our city and our council officials, and I want to pay special tribute to our outgoing Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor for their stewardship over that time. Covid19 has brought the role and essence of Dublin City Council to the fore – that of providing for and supporting the people of Dublin.
“I believe this pandemic has brought into focus what matters to us as a city. We have learned to appreciate the riches that lie within our immediate community whether that be our local green space, our local coffee shop or our local leaders.
“Our challenge now is to enhance those local community riches and at the same time reimage our city centre not just as a place to work, to do business to enjoy arts, culture and recreation amenities but also as a place to live in a sustainable manner that promotes personal, environmental well being as well as economic activity.
“As Lord Mayor I will endeavour to work with you my colleagues, our officials and our citizens not just to make Dublin look and feel like a European capital but that it also becomes a key player among European cities.
“A major part of my focus over the next year will be on housing. We know that the only real long-term solution to homelessness, our social housing waiting lists and housing precarity is the provision of affordable housing. I am particularly concerned for those who fall outside our social housing income thresholds and who lack any real tenant security and are struggling, day in day out, to meet high rents.
“Too many of these are our young people – they are working, striving to hold down a job, striving to progress their careers and relationships and to contribute to their communities. As pointed out by our construction unions, some of them are building homes BUT they cannot afford to rent or buy what they are building.
“We need to deliver more public housing on public lands. Our Emmet Rd cost rental development is an excellent start. We need more such projects and we need to ensure they are actually affordable.
“We need to find innovative ways of bringing vacant units in the city back into more productive use AND make innovative use of vacant space for residential purposes. We also need to speed up the turn around of voids and acquisitions for those on our frustratingly slow social housing waiting lists.
“As the 353rd Lord Mayor, I am only the 10th ever female Lord Mayor. I want to pay tribute to those women, who have gone before me and I would like to think that many, many, more female Lord Mayors will come after me.
“Women and girls look to other women and girls for role models and if you don’t see it, it’s hard to be it. It’s also hard when you don’t see yourself or your views and concerns represented at the decision making table – for women this issue has been strongly articulated during Covid, during the mother and baby home debates and more recently on Saturday in relation to the ownership of our National Maternity Hospital.
“As Lord Mayor, I want to give voice and advocacy to the experiences of women and girls living, working and recreating in our city. I want to give voice to the absolute need to view the functioning of our city, the services we provide, the amenities and activities we promote and safety in our city through their eyes.
“I will be a champion for issues directly impacting women and girls in our city, and the role of the Council in their lives. Unbalanced representation is not only a gender issue but an issue for those who belong to a minority racial, ethnic or cultural community, for those who are members of the LGBTQI+ community and as well as being an issue for young and more senior people and those of differing abilities. I look forward to continuing the work of my predecessors on the Interfaith Charter and our Integration and Intercultural Strategy.
“I commit to the LGBTQI+ Comhairle na nOg pledge launched this past Pride weekend and to working with them and you to promote LGBTQI+ visibility and inclusion all year round and allow Dubliners send a strong message of equality not just within our own city but also to other cities here in Ireland and across Europe.
“As we seek to transition to a new post Covid city, it’s imperative that we all as public representatives and Council Officials work together to realise our ambitions for our city. I commit to leading this togetherness and common purpose.
“Finally, I want to thank all those who have supported me personally and played a part in me being in the position to undertake this role – my family and friends, my INTO work colleagues especially Joanna, Linda, Kim, Caoimhe and Seaghan, and my Labour Party colleagues, particularly those here tonight, those in Labour Women and Labour Trade Unionists and my colleagues in Dublin Bay North
“Finally I want to pay tribute to the woman who has had the most impact on my life – my mother. Thank you mum for your unconditional love and support, for your strength, warmth and understanding regardless if we succeed or fail. Thank you for being the rock that anchors our family and gives us the freedom to pursue our aspirations.”