X Marks The Spot – Local Elections 2024


Posted 3 weeks ago in Arts & Culture Features

It’s that time again when unfamiliar faces attach themselves to street lighting poles and your doorbell buzzes constantly with hopefuls pushing leaflets into your hands while promising they’ll make sure the grass verges are cut regularly. The local elections are up on Friday June 7th, with 137 electoral areas to be decided and 949 County and City Councillors to be elected. As well as making sure those grass verges are cut and attending to other civic minutiae, these are the people who make heavyweight policy decisions at local level including a substantial range of functions at district level on a fully devolved basis like planning, roads, traffic, housing, environmental services, recreation, amenity and community development, formal civic functions, a general representational and oversight role and citizen/community engagement.

It’s disheartening therefore to see data that highlights our growing apathy to local elections with the 2019 voter turnout at 50.2% (there was a slight spike in 2004 when turnout almost reached 60%, still some way short of the 1967 high of 68%) and statistically turnout was lowest on a national level in Dublin (Fingal, South Dublin and Dublin City). The lowest turnout nationwide was in Tallaght South (26.9%).

With the cultural welfare of our great city at the heart of countless discussions we decided to pose a question to some of the candidates – who graciously gave us their time in what is their busiest period – about what specific policies they would introduce to support the cultural and night time economy, including arts infrastructures, venues, artists and leisure and sporting facilities. We hope their answers help in some small way when you go to put that X on the voting slip.

 

Cllr Darragh Moriarty – Labour Party – Dublin South Central

Arts infrastructure & artists

As a member of the Arts, Culture and Recreation SPC, I’ve sat on the Artist Workspaces Subcommittee. This has brought the City Arts Office, City Planners, Councillors and officials from the Department of Arts, Culture, Media, Tourism etc. together.

The aim has been to work to develop an Arts Infrastructure Policy for DCC so that as developers of larger sites, who are required to give 5% of their space to “arts or community” use, come into contact with DCC, we know what the needs of a particular community are. Whether it be for artists to make, perform, teach or present their artform, we need to ensure the City Council is doing everything in its power to meet the needs of artists and creatives in Dublin.

In the 2024-2029 Council term, I would continue to work to develop, finalise and implement this policy so that we can take advantage of private space and extract a community and public gain.

Further to this, it is essential to identify sites and locations where the City Council can develop itself as opposed to solely relying on private developers – such sites in my own electoral area includes the Liberties Creative Campus project, the Digital Hub and Diageo sites, the Rupert Guinness Theatre and the Inchicore Library Building to name a few.

Cultural/arts venues and audiences

Develop and enhance artist workspaces. In recent years we have seen numerous cultural and arts venues forced to close and replaced by various other uses, often hotels. What use are heaps of hotels to cater for tourists if there’s nothing to see because arts and culture is dying in Dublin?

A number of once active venues such as The Ambassador Theatre and Rupert Guinness have had their doors shut for years with little to no explanation.

Artists need an affordable venue for performance and if these private spaces cannot be reactivated by using Local Government powers such as the Derelict Site Register, the Council should step in and consider compulsory purchase to deliver these spaces as public venues for our City.

Leisure venues/activities 

On the leisure and recreation side, I represent a community in Dublin 8 without a single full-sized playing pitch for the more than 8,000 children and young people who call Dublin 8 home.

I experienced those lack of facilities myself and I’ve made headway on the Council to righting this inequality and injustice which sees some elite Dublin schools having more greenspace than the entirety of Dublin 8.

As well as sports spaces to provide a positive outlet for young people, we need community arts space for artists and creatives to engage people of all ages in artistic pursuits such as dance, drama, crafts etc. The dearth of community spaces in Dublin 8 is stark. Which means those who can seek out spaces elsewhere are forced to leave our community, while those who can’t, for a variety of reasons, are left behind to go without.

This is why it’s so crucial to implement the City Council’s Arts Infrastructure Policy and to implement the City Council’s Sports Plan.

 

Ian Nunoo – Fine Gael Local Election Candidate for Dublin South West Inner City

Arts infrastructure & artists

Dublin 8 is a vibrant, eclectic mix of people, culture, art and heritage, with the likes of IMMA, Common Ground and The Digital Hub Artist-in-Residence, all calling the area home. However at the same time, art infrastructure, and to some extent artists, are rapidly diminishing from the area – for example The Digital Hub is to be dissolved in 2025, leaving residents with little to no choice for artists in the area as to where they move to, and with places like Tivoli Theatre gone and replaced with what has been described at best as a “cultural space” and at worst a “storage facility”, shows the lack of consideration given by some about arts infrastructure and artists. It’s time that DCC and the Arts Council get serious about infrastructure planning and artists under their remit in regards to Dublin 8. I would support a root and branch assessment and work with all stakeholders for a period of implementation. The aim of which would be to create sustainable spaces for artists to work, contribute and showcase their work whilst giving accessibility to everyone under a 3x 10x framework. What this means is creating a space that gives equal opportunity to everyone – be they professional artists or amateur spanning across Dublin 8. The 3x 10x framework stands for 3 times the input for 10 times the positive social impact.

 

Cultural/arts venues and audiences

As mentioned above in the previous question there has been a decline in infrastructure, which means there is also a decline in places and events for people to attend. With enough will and commitment, places like the Rupert Guinness Theatre could be brought back into use. There have been some open discussions about cultural space in Dublin 8, or the need to remedy the lack thereof, which in turn deprives the area of opportunity to see, hear and take in performances, all the while impacting the night time economy and the social fabric of certain areas.

 

Leisure venues/activities

I’m going to give a slightly different response on this as it is an important point to make. Currently there are roughly 8500 children in the area with no access to a full sized playing pitch. I have advocated for a sports campus and multiple sports pitches because the area needs it. If you look at it through the 3x 10x framework, the numbers work, especially on the positive social impact side. Playing pitches in Dublin 8 are needed to attract vulnerable young people into sports and keep them away from getting involved in the drug trade, anti-social behaviour and crime. The overall health and wellbeing benefits are limitless for everyone and with improved health and wellbeing, which in turn should lead to less of a strain on services in general.

 

Teresa Costello – Fianna Fail Councillor at South Dublin County Council

These are fundamentals in all communities – they help connect people, it crosses age profiles and demographics too. People connect around a common shared passion. This is good for physical well being and mental health.

A policy I would introduce is to ensure one of the strategic vacant sites in Tallaght village is brought into public ownership to develop a modern, multi functional community centre in the village. The population is growing and with more apartment dwellers, space needs to be created to allow people to meet, socialise, play sports and get creative in a recreational setting in Tallaght village. There is no such facility in the village and the night time economy is non-existent outside two pubs. There are no other options or attractions to draw people into the village after 5 pm. This has to change.

 

Niamh Mongey – Social Democrats Local Election Candidate for Ballyfermot-Drimnagh

Arts Infrastructure

I have been working as an arts professional for a number of years. I am an advocate for artists and the invaluable contribution they bring to society. If elected, I would campaign for greater supports, by maintaining and expanding on the basic income for artists. This is an essential support for artists who face constant financial insecurity in a city with a volatile rental market. Artists deserve to live, create and contribute to our city.

Cultural/arts venues and audiences

There are too many vacant and derelict spaces in the city; spaces that could be reimagined by artists and creatives. If given the opportunity, I would introduce a massive in taxes for spaces that have are left vacant, and explore funding opportunities and grants for artists to inhabit unused spaces.  As for our audiences, the stalling of the Night Time Economy scheme over the past 12 months has been disappointing, but the recent appointment of a new Night Time Economy advisor is welcome, and I hope we begin to see this in action. Dublin should be on a par with other European capitals when it comes to our night time economy

Leisure venues/activities:

In my area, (Ballyfermot – Drimnagh) there is a severe lack of investment in public amenities and social spaces – one of my top priorities is to advocate for more safe, clean, communal spaces where people can gather to create community. One space that needs urgent support is the John Bosco Youth Centre in Drimnagh – a centre where people gather to learn new languages, to practice sport, yoga, to exercise with gym facilities and to create art – although it has a massive footfall, space is not fit for purpose – these spaces need to be supported with proper funding and resources.

Words: Adhamh Ó Caoimh

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