herald

Tuesday 22 October 2019

'I've been learning a lot on doorsteps' - South Dublin's youngest candidate

David on the campaign trail with mum Geraldine. Photo: Damien Eagers
David on the campaign trail with mum Geraldine. Photo: Damien Eagers

The controversial BusConnects bus corridor was "the number one" issue as the Herald joined Fine Gael hopeful David McManus on a canvass in Rathfarnham this week.

The 26-year-old is running for a seat on South Dublin County Council, the youngest candidate in the race for the area.

There are 15 contenders in the Rathfarnham/ Templeogue area with seven seats and David is optimistic his vow not to make "empty promises" and work hard will win over the voters.

"In this area, Fine Gael are running four candidates in a seven-seater - it's like Willie Mullins at the Grand National," he tells the Herald.

"Ideally the best three or four horses will cross the line together. I am a new, first-time candidate and fighting for the last seat."

With a degree in economics and politics from UCD, the Rathfarnham man says: "You learn a lot more on the doors than in a lecture hall."

And like many his age, he is learning that Dublin is a tough place to find your feet, currently living at home as he and his girlfriend save for a mortgage.

"We stopped building houses in 2011 and now we are playing catch-up," he said.

"Only a steady increase in supply will bring prices down. Politicians shouldn't be selling easy solutions.

"At the moment the construction industry is working at full capacity and there is a shortage of labour," he added.

Gripe

"You wouldn't trust a builder saying he can build you a house quickly, so why trust a politician?"

As we make our way along a leafy avenue, time and again it is the proposed bus plan that local people have a gripe with.

They fear their peaceful road will be bumper-to-bumper with cars and that traffic management in Rathfarnham will get worse rather than better.

With neighbours losing gardens and the loss of an existing bus route, rail would be a better option, according to one resident.

"The number one issue is the bus corridors. The whole plan is poorly thought out," he said.

"There are many better ways. Ideally there should be an underground from Rathfarnham to the city centre.

"Culling trees and taking away people's front gardens, destroying the environment, is not a good thing.

"I went to some of the meetings with the transport people and found it was a waste of time.

"In terms of the local elections, I feel the councillors have been side-stepped by the National Roads Authority but that has been happening for years and it is part of an on-going disease, if you want, of democracy.

"Bodies are set up that are not accountable to the ordinary people. They just follow their own set of laws.

"The direct impact to me is they are going to take away the 15B and re-route it."

David himself is "overall, against the plan" as he believes the price per square metre of garden is only an "average" figure.

"I would be hopeful the NTA would take on any concerns for adverse disruption, particularly the front gardens and trees.

"Even if everyone thought it was a fantastic idea, you have to ask yourself about the cost," he said.

"Your compulsory purchase order is some of the most expensive land in Dublin - Rathgar, Rathmines, Terenure and Rathfarnham," he said.

"I spoke to the NTA - this figure of €25,000 is only an average figure. Some of the properties are far more than that and that would be a big concern of mine.

"I'd ask them to take on the concerns of communities and resident associations to minimise any adverse impact."

Pruning trees and fixing footpaths will also be high on the newcomer's priority list.

As another resident comes to the door she explains she has fallen three times in the last year in the same spot of pavement as tree roots have made the path uneven.

It would seem David is right to say these are the issues people want solved the most.

Some residents also take the chance to point out the positives in having local representatives in their corner.

One woman had a downstairs bathroom put into her home so she can live downstairs rather than leaving the home she reared her family in.

"I had the choice of moving but just the thought of selling a house...

"It was fortuitous it was done and it is a lovely job," she said.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News