Throughout recent months, I have been liaising with Gardai in the Bridewell in order to address concerns about visible drug dealing and house break-ins across the district. As part of the Garda effort to counteract the drug dealing, the number of stop and searches under the Misuse of Drugs Act significantly increased since the start of this year. To date, approximately 800 searches have taken place resulting in arrests for possession and intent to supply drugs. Gardai from the Bridewell continue to be involved in various other operations across the district including efforts to tackle anti-social and criminal behaviour, reduce the amount of prostitution that is on-going and addressing the level of bicycle theft. Officers recently put in place a dedicated action plan along the North Circular Road following incidents of intimidation of elderly residents and cyclists between Hanlon’s Corner and Aughrim Street. The local Superintendent has advised that these operations will continue until those responsible are apprehended.
FUTURE USE OF 81-83 NORTH CIRCULAR ROAD
Dublin City Council has indicated that it expects the Dublin Simon Community to relocate from its existing facility at 81 – 83 North Circular Road to Chester House in Phibsborough before the year’s end. I know that many in the local community are anxious about what will replace Dublin Simon in 81 – 83 North Circular Road. Officials in the Housing Department of the City Council and the Regional Homeless Executive have re-iterated that the written commitment not to use the facility for future homeless services remains in place. Indeed, when Dublin Simon completes the move to Chester House, there will be a further opportunity for local residents to meet with the Homeless Executive and the City Council to discuss how exactly 81 – 83 North Circular Road will be used in future. When details of this meeting are available, I will make sure to keep residents informed.
TEMPORARY MINOR STREET PLAY ORDERS
Dublin City Council is currently examining the feasibility of introducing local temporary minor street play orders in residential districts across the city. Such orders would see car access being restricted in order to allow children play on a street during a specific period of time. A scheme similar to this has been successfully implemented in Bristol and following requests from some Councillors, the City Council is assessing whether the plan could be introduced here. The granting of a Temporary Play Street Order would enable residents on a given street to restrict access in order to facilitate supervised children play without the danger or inconvenience of through traffic. For example, if such a scheme is adopted, neighbours could formally close a street for a specified time period to enable local children to play freely. Other residents would continue to have car access during this time period but would be escorted onto the street by volunteer stewards. A report is expected to come before the City Council in the coming weeks and it will be a matter for Councillors to decide whether this scheme is introduced.
RAISING NATIONAL ISSUES IN THE OIREACHTAS
As you know since my election to the Dail I have frequently contributed to debates on important legislation as well as highlighting issues of concern to local communities. In recent months, I have spoken on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013, the Thirty-Second Amendment of the Constitution (Abolition of Seanad Eireann) Bill 2013, the Social Welfare & Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013, the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges & Procedures) Bill 2013, the Housing (Amendment) Bill 2012, the Companies Bill 2012 and the Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) Bill 2012. The Ceann Comhairle allowed me raise matters of particular concern to the communities of Dublin Central in the Dáil. Some of these issues relate to the on-going negotiations between the Office of Public Works and the Irish Insurance Federation regarding the provision of flood insurance. I have also raised the need for an Educate Together secondary school on the north-side of the city, the planned LUAS cross-city and problems for recipients of Jobseeker’s Allowance.
FIRST REPORT PUBLISHED INTO PRIVATELY RENTED PROPERTY INSPECTIONS
Dublin City Council recently published the first report into the Inspection Programme being undertaken into Pre-63 rented properties in the city. The report published in the summer makes for grim reading. Following an initial inspection of 268 separate properties across six districts in the city, including the North Circular Road, a total of 1801 bed-sits were found. In excess of 90% of these units were found not to be in compliance with the law. Approximately 50% of units were found along the North Circular Road. So far, the City Council has issued 11 prohibition orders on some landlords with further action expected against those who fail to carry out required improvement works. The City Council’s special taskforce examining greater regulations of the privately rented sector is finalising a list of recommendations that will shortly be sent to the Minister for Housing as she sets about reviewing existing legislation in this area.