Long-term planning is something we are not good at in this country. Which is not to say we are not good at coming up with long term plans. We’re just not good at implementing them.
And so it’s usually more productive to think short term. In that spirit here’s ten things I think we could do this year that would make Dublin a better place.
1. Double the number of student houses and apartments in the city. Allocate a large part of the huge Grangegorman site to student accommodation which would house students from all over the city, including the huge numbers of international students now coming to Dublin. This would take the heat out of the buy-to-let market and free up a lot of private rental space.
2. Start offering buses and trains with work space on board. Not only is driving to work in Dublin stressful, costly and time-consuming in itself, but it is an enormous waste of time which people could use to work. A new higher cost bus service should be introduced where commuters could use a laptop, with wi-fi access. Something in the order of €5 a trip it would still represent great value for working people and a huge advantage over taking the car.
3. There should be drug and alcohol rehabilitation places for all those who require them. It seems incredible when we know that people who are addicted cost society a huge amount in money and distress that the option of recovery from their illness is not freely and immediately available. Witness the recent horrific case where a court was told that a crack cocaine addict had a €1,200 a day habit. Just imagine the crime and misery involved in financing that habit.
4. Start child care co-operatives. Many single parents are trapped in poverty across this city because they cannot work as they are minding their children. A solution could be for a group of such parents to share the childminding while working or studying part-time. The city council could provide facilities and seed finance.
5. Allow electric mopeds to use bus lanes. We desperately need to get more people back on to two wheeled transport. There’s a revolution in electric bikes being ignored while we plan billion euro transport systems.
6. At the same time, there needs to be a system of grants for firms to make their workplaces bike friendly.
7. A human NCT for the less well off. It’s becoming clear that ill-health is an enormous factor in people’s economic and social prospects. Poverty causes ill-health and ill-health causes poverty. Everyone on social welfare should be offered a free comprehensive check-up every two years.
8. Get everyone in Dublin to plant a tree. Then you can use your car guilt-free. Trees soak up the carbon that’s heating up the planet. And they look nice.
9. Get older people back to work. There’s a massive amount of experience just waiting to be tapped into for local communities. The new rules where pensioners can earn €100 a week tax free is a fantastic opportunity. Let’s come up with some good ideas.
10. Let’s just try to be nicer to each other. Have a nice year.