Wednesday 08 July 2020

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Cork Independent


Meet the candidates

Wednesday, 27th November, 2019 4:39pm

Residents living in Cork North-Central will be heading to the ballot boxes tomorrow with 12 candidates to choose from in this year’s by-election. The by-election is to fill the vacant Dáil seat left by Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher and polling will take place tomorrow, 29 November, from 7am- 10pm. The electorate for Cork North-Central is 87,203 and many of the candidates are no strangers to politics at a local and national level. The Cork Independent asked the 12 candidates two questions as they come to the end of canvassing. These were:

1. What will be your main priority if you get elected?

2. What's the main issue you're hearing about at the doors?


Cllr Pádraig O'Sullivan, 
Fianna Fáil 

1. It has to be housing, be it public, private or affordable. It simply is taking too long to build social housing units because the Government is constantly interfering with the council’s plans. A lack of social housing units means those on housing lists compete with private renters for an already limited stock of houses. Then people who want to buy a house can’t, because they can’t save for a mortgage because all their money is going towards paying rent.
It’s a vicious circle than can only be addressed by the actual construction of new social homes like what was done by previous Fianna Fáil governments in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s across Cork. The State buying or renting private housing doesn’t deal with the real problem. It only makes it more difficult for private renters and purchasers.
2. Apart from a lack of housing, it’s the state of our health system. Nearly every day, I’ve spoken to someone who has had a relative lying on a trolley in one of our emergency departments. Until we put in the additional beds our hospitals need, pay our doctors and nurses enough to keep them in the Irish health system, and invest in home care support for our older people, we will continue to see older people lying on trolleys and children waiting an age for basic treatment.

Cllr Thomas Gould,
Sinn Féin 

1. I'm proud to be from the northside and I love living here. However, in my opinion, the northside has been neglected by successive governments. There are not enough houses being built, not enough gardaí on our streets, and no hospital on the northside of the city. I will work tirelessly to ensure that Cork North Central is given a fair deal and I will stand up for families and workers.
My number one priority, if I'm elected tomorrow, is the delivery of decent, affordable homes for the people of Cork. I have been campaigning for years to build social and affordable housing in Cork city and I want to bring that campaign to the Dáil. That is why I need your support tomorrow.
2. Every conversation on the door is different in its own way but the root of what I'm hearing is the same. People are sick of the northside being left behind, whether it’s the lack of housing and housing maintenance, the crisis in health, the lack of gardaí or inadequate bus services in areas surrounding the city. The Northern Ring Road and the lack of proper road infrastructure is another big issue. The fact is that Cork isn't getting its fair share and that needs to change.
Housing is the number one challenge for most of the people I’ve talked to and I've outlined solutions for Cork that I will champion in the Dáil, including reducing rents by up to €1,500 per year through the introduction of tax refund, alongside a three-year rent freeze, more council and affordable homes for Cork and ensuring the days of boarded-up houses on the northside are a thing of the past. 

James Coughlan, 
Workers Party

1. Public housing would be the first priority in relation to the current housing crisis. It’s more than a crisis at this stage in the game with 100,000 on the housing list nationally. 5,500 of those are on the housing list in Cork. There’s 10,000 homeless and 4,000 of those are children. It’s the worst housing crisis in the history of Ireland since the famine of 1847/48. For a country that’s supposed to be so rich, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, that we’ve let it decline this far is beyond belief.
2. A lot of issues are in relation to the maintenance of the houses. Cork City Council maintenance crews have been reduced dramatically over the last number of years. There’s a shortage of masons, plasterers, carpenters. There’s no recruitment in that area. There needs to be a massive recruitment drive in relation to trades.

Thomas Kiely,  Independent

1. Housing. In the last census there’s over 3,000 house idle houses in Cork North Central constituency alone at a time when we have record homelessness and when we have people on the streets. The council has more boarded houses on the northside than anything else. I’ve passed more idle houses belonging to the council in the last couple of weeks alone, it’s crazy how they’ve been left sit idle.
2. What I’m hearing an awful lot is that people are sick of the corruption that’s going on in this country. I’ve run in a couple of elections and it’s the first time that I’m hearing real anger towards the Government. Obviously, the housing and healthcare are issues are coming up at the door, they’re really fed up of the Government and the way things are going at the moment. They’re fed up with the establishment. People are finally seeing this for what it is. It’s just a case of whether I can get people to come out and vote. Fifty per cent of the country don’t bother.

Finian Toomey, 

1. The first and foremost issue in Cork North Central is social housing. The amount of people on waiting lists, the amount that can’t get on waiting lists. It is incredible that Cork City and Cork County Councils have got numerous boarded up properties, needing retrofit, that could put these people off the waiting list. People are crying out to be housed in their own locality. These are properties that are available, and there shouldn’t be a vacant house in Cork North Central at the moment, in relation to social housing. People are at the end of their tether.

2. Healthcare across the board. We have people who are looking to access mental health services in this country, specifically young people. The findings of a national report only came out the other day, with a cross section of over 5,000 young people going from school to college, showing that there is a serious mental health problem for these people to access services. I have so much respect for the people that are working in the health service. They are so understaffed, so underfunded, and lacking in resources to do the job properly.

Colm Burke, 
Fine Gael

1. Infrastructure. Number one would be working towards getting a new hospital built for Cork. I was the first person out on this issue three or four years ago. It’s in a national development plan now. There’s been no new hospital bed open in that period of time. We’ve an increase in population, we must respond to that. There is over 1,700 people working in 1 Albert Quay. Within the next three years, there’s going to be an additional 8,000 people working there in the new blocks that are being built. That’s 10,000 people in an area where, five years ago, there was nobody at all working.  There’s going to be increased demands for services.
2. There’s a number of issues in housing. One is local authority housing. There’s over 1,000 houses being built by the city council, 400 will be done finished by December. There is a whole cohort of people finding it difficult to get on the social housing list because their income is above the guidelines. At the same time they’re finding it very difficult to get mortgages. We need to continue to grow the number of local authority houses we’re building. City Council now has over 10,500 local authority houses. So there are huge challenges there.

Cllr Fiona Ryan, 

1. What’s very clear is the question of housing. It represents the sharpest edge of the capitalist system that is creating untold misery, not just in Cork. Obviously the Government is not fit, and has proven itself not fit, to tackle this crisis. It cannot continue. Housing, depression and mental health would be a big issue that we’re facing - more specifically, the lack of services and funding. For every €100 spent on the health budget, only €6 is spent on mental health. Right now people’s option is to go to the accident and emergency, sit in a plastic chair for eight hours, and probably be provided with a sedative and off you go. It’s all too common an occurrence.
2. Housing is unequivocally the biggest issue. An RTÉ programme showed that the average rent is now 40 per cent higher than the average mortgage. My generation is being crushed by the rental crisis. And the political establishment seems to have no interest in taking on the profiteering that is going on. But there’s also the question of the Government wiping its hands of building social and public housing, which is necessary. The private market in Cork is only interested in building student accommodation, offices and hotels because that is how they can reap the maximum amount of profit in the shortest amount of time. The State must step up.

Sinéad Halpin, 
Social Democrats

1. The basics at the moment are not being very well taken care of by the Government. My main priorities are pushing for affordable housing and social housing and implementation of Sláintecare, which all of the main parties of the Dáil have signed up to. 
2. Unofficial homelessness, massive amounts of overcrowding and people having to move back in with their parents. Landlords, who are upping rents beyond what they are allowed to, and then people are just putting up with it, because they’ve got no where to go. Also, the waiting list for healthcare - people are stuck in limbo. One lady told me she's getting ‘are you dead yet' letters’, the 'do you still need to be on this list' letters, you're old and we need to see if you're still alive.

Oliver Moran, 
Green Party

1. I am standing on three issues: housing, transport and democracy. The housing issue is my number one issue. It affects every section of society. Those who, once upon a time, would have been able to very easily afford a mortgage and wouldn’t be under pressure for rent now find themselves under severe pressure for rent and unable to get and pay a mortgage. 
Tackling the commuting and transport issues, which also are a big chunk of tackling climate change. Democracy - even though it seems like a strange one - an awful lot of people feel that they are disconnected from the process from what's going on. When something happens in the neighbourhood they are the last to hear about it. The Government can do a lot more to actively engage people.
2. Housing and transport. The pressure that people are under about housing, is really at the level now of human crisis. When you hear about families, entire families, sharing a single room in a parent’s house unable to get out of it, unable to afford private rent, unable to save for a mortgage, unable to afford one even if they can save for one. It's these stories that really bring home how severe the housing crisis is. 

Charlie Keddy, 

1. To do all I can to stop abortion in Ireland.
2. I haven’t been canvassing. I live in Wicklow and I am only standing because I couldn’t be sure that there would be an anti-abortion candidate in the four constituencies. I am standing in all four as the anti-abortion candidate.

Martin Condon, 

1. I’d like to see much more efficient use of our gardaí to make our streets safer. I think our drug policy needs serious revision. I think we need to completely decriminalise the drug user, our gardaí need to focus on drug dealers. I would like to see the cannabis market regulated in line with the decriminlisation of the drug user. I have done a four year bachelor of science in herbal scince where I specialised in medical cannabis and I spoke to people like Vera Twomey. One girl even had to leave Ireland recently because she suffered from chronic pain (in order) to source medical cannabis.
2. A lot are dissatisfied with the Government, there would be a sigh of relief when they would hear I am an Independent. The issues of housing and the hospitals are at the tip of everyone's tongue but when I bring up the the issue of the drug policy, 99 times out of 100, people say health professionals are better to deal with drug users than the gardaí. People are in favour of the gardai going after the drug dealer and not the drug user. I am not a one trick pony but drug policy is at the front of my focus, I make an issue about it at the door. 

John Maher, 

1. The main priority is about representing Cork North Central and delivering for them, like the housing crisis. In terms of the infrastructure crisis, we don’t have the North Ring Road and we don't have the Dunkettle Interchange. We are not building enough social and affordable houses and then we have the public transport issues; we have areas that don't even have a bus yet and I think the current crop representing Cork North-Central haven’t been doing anything for the people of Cork North-Central. 
The flood relief in Glanmire has been going on since 2012, the North Ring Road is designed and sitting on a shelf since 2005, there’s not even a hospital on the northside. There needs to be a balance between the northside and the southside of the city which affects everybody in Cork.  
2. Housing. The idea that a ten year old doesn’t have a house, and with Santa just around the corner, it's just wrong. There’s people in Ireland right now who can’t afford to buy a house even with good jobs. If we build enough houses for people who need them, that will get them out of private rented accommodation, and that would hopefully bring the rent down for people who just want to rent privately, as well as freeing it up.

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