Below are some questions sent to me by Trinity graduates. I'm here to answer any questions you might have so if you have anything you'd like to add to this please submit them below and I'll endeavour to get answers up ASAP.

General

I am a progressive, politically left person – with a strong commitment to fairness, equality of outcome, a strong active secular state and accessible high quality public services, with a vibrant economy. In general, Centre Left

Yes.

I am running to represent the Trinity constituency as an independent. However, I am a member of the Social Democrats. Obviously in most areas my values align with the SDs – otherwise I wouldn’t be a member. But on matters of key importance I am willing to vote differently where my beliefs or ideas differed.

Housing

Yes – this is a key piece in the solution to our housing crisis and it is unfortunate that despite commitments in the programme for government no action has been taken. We need to shift the balance in terms of housing away from property rights and financialisation and firmly towards an understanding of housing as a human right and a public good. As a general point, there is enormous changes that can be done in the area of housing (property) for the public good, but successive governments have hidden behind the constitution to avoid them. There is robust legal advice that this is not the case – for example as relates to a universal rent freeze.

Yes, for at least two years, but perhaps longer. We need to freeze rents to provide some stability for renters while we deliver – as a matter of urgency – cost rental at scale to drive down rental prices and create a non-market alternative to the private rental sector. Obviously in the context of recent cost of living and inflationary issues this becomes all the more pressing. I would propose further a rent cap set at whatever rates are currently – the solution to the rental and housing crisis is to drive down rents, and a rent freeze should not create a trap of rents not being reduced. The essential point is that housing costs should be no more than one third of income – and we have to drive down prices so that is achieved.

Yes. We need to protect renters’ rights in terms of security of tenure, a publicly available renter’s register where previous rent levels for a property can be seen, long term leases, a deposit protection scheme and increased regulation in the sector. Stronger protections for renters, hugely enhanced enforcement, along with fair and adequate protections for landlords will make the sector work better for everyone. On Dublin City Council I have worked in the past year on amendments to the development plan which emphasise the importance of affordability in the rental sectors and of policies which will lead to this. In the Seanad I will work on holding this government to account in terms of how the 1 in 5 people renting are being failed – living with uncontrolled rent increases – despite rent pressure zones – and a terrifying lack of housing security.

Yes.

Yes absolutely - financialisation of housing is driving increased housing prices and increased rents and making housing unaffordable. In 2019 and 2020, 95% of apartments built in Dublin were bought by institutional investors (cuckoo funds) – the majority are built to build to rent standards which is a lower building standard delivering substandard apartments. This is a disaster in the long term for single people, families and communities, and for quality of life generally. We urgently need to regulate this, as other cities, including Berlin most recently, have done.. Government moves last year to limit this – on foot of opposition pressure including from the Social Democrats – are deeply inadequate and, significantly, do not apply to apartments in the city, suggesting that they do not understand apartments as homes and city living as somewhere people should be able to build communities. Additionally, the last two governments have decimated the standards for apartment building – all to create unfair advantages for the financialisation of housing. On Dublin City Council I have put forward motions to the development plan which seek to limit Build to Rent developments and to introduce a new land zoning for the Dublin City area which would specify that the land is zoned for social and affordable housing use (social, cost rental, affordable purchase and senior citizen’s housing). This was vigorously opposed by the council management and government parties within the council but nonetheless was voted through by councillors to go to the next stage of the development plan. If elected to the Seanad I would similarly oppose speculative and investor interests in the housing sector.

https://www.dublininquirer.com/2021/11/10/create-a-way-to-zone-land-so-housing-built-there-must-be-mostly-social-and-affordable-councillors-propose

https://twitter.com/catzstocker/status/1458538385883209730?s=21

Yes, I would absolutely support efforts to build social and public housing in my area

No.

Drugs

Yes. I support decriminalisation. The current legal/criminal approach to drugs is to the benefit of criminal interests and does nothing to support individuals facing addiction issues. We need to decriminalise – following the Portuguese example – and we also need to seriously invest in dual diagnosis beds, trauma informed mental health and addiction supports and more generally speaking poverty and trauma prevention.

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

LGBTQIA

Yes

Yes. Also aside from the legislation provision of trans healthcare in Ireland is appalling, and must be urgently addressed. It needs a rights based approach. It is not acceptable that people trying to access care are on waiting lists for years. Treatment for under 18s is virtually nonexistent. It is vital that we provide greater availability of trans healthcare services but also that we change the model of provision.

No – I would be strongly of the opinion that we need to push back on the infiltration of so called gender critical perspectives in Irish public discourse.

Yes – 100%. Thankfully cultural attitudes have shifted a great deal in the past twenty years but homophobic or transphobic bullying is never acceptable and education forms a huge part of eliminating that. As a connected point, as below, sex education in schools must be provided in an unbiased and evidence-based way, and must include education on consent.

Womens' Issues

Yes – I think the conflation of sex work and trafficking which informs the ‘Nordic model’ approach is very problematic and evidence has shown it to decrease the safety of sex workers. Broadly speaking, I would support a New Zealand approach to sex work which has been shown to increase the safety of sex workers, offer them greater legal protection as workers and improve relationships with the police. Additional measures necessary to tackle trafficking of people, including trafficking for sexual purposes, must be brought forward to prevent forced sexual exploitation.

Yes – we have huge work to do in creating a cultural shift in the attitudes which enable gender based violence. Putting the onus on women to protect themselves from this systemic problem is wrong headed and has failed. We need evidence based sexual health, relationships and consent education in our schools and third level institutions. It would also be helpful I think to have this in workplaces, through unions and professional bodies and basically through any mechanism that allows us to reach the wider population. Sexual violence starts with dehumanising and objectifying attitudes to women and we need to empower men to stand up against these and make them unacceptable in the way racism or homophobia are unacceptable.

Yes – was very active in repeal in my local T4Y branch and have been engaged with the Together for Safety group since in pursuing this. Would add – although it’s not the exact question you’ve asked – that with the repeal review on the legislation taking place in the coming months we have to focus on ensuring that the review is about removing barriers to accessing abortion care and improving the legislation and the availability of that care and is not allowed to become a rerun of the disingenuous arguments made by the No campaign in 2018.

https://twitter.com/catzstocker/status/1491799577078353920?s=21

Yes

Yes – have attended numerous public meetings and demos on this since 2017. This is an issue for our us, for children and for our grandchildren. The hospital will be there for then next 100 years – it must be secular and publicly owned.

https://twitter.com/catzstocker/status/1408782224703512577?s=21

https://twitter.com/catzstocker/status/1071207589470461953?s=21

https://twitter.com/catzstocker/status/1492220132831244294?s=21

I was involved at the outset with the campaign group working on this. In fact, they contacted me Friday to ask that I get as many Dublin City Cllrs as are willing to sign a statement in support of the campaign which will be delivered to the Dail. The statement – which I drafted – is as follows and I am currently gathering signatures.

Higher Education

Yes, this is important in terms of worker’s rights, the mental health of PhD candidates and in terms of supporting academic independence. It is vital for our society and our economy that we invest heavily in education, research and development across all disciplines. This will only happen successfully if we treat those engaged in teaching and research fairly.

Yes

Yes – I worked for several years in the Trinity Access Programmes and as part of that on the Higher Education Access Route team and am passionate about educational access and diversity. It’s great to see the opening up of TCD and other universities in the past decade or two through targets for representation of those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, mature students and students with disabilities. Obviously there is a great deal more work to be done on this and reform of the existing LC and CAO systems is needed. The TCD admissions feasibility study has piloted a different entry mechanism which warrants further investigation. Systems such as relative performance ranking in terms of points definitely have merit (where you are assessed on how you rank in the context of your schools overall results rather than on results alone – so high points in the context of a school which typically receives high points is one thing, but above average points in a school which does not typically perform at high levels is another) It’s been great to see also the expansion of routes to higher ed through further education colleges and this is something that should be supported and encouraged. With the pandemic it looked like a space was opening up to look at LC and CAO reform and unfortunately recent government decisions mean that window of opportunity is closing.

Taxes & Wages

Yes

Yes

Yes

Environment

Yes. I also think it’s important that our approach to climate action does not allow it to become a middle class hobby and does not disadvantage those who are already more vulnerable in our society. Due to a motion I submitted a commitment to a just transition was incorporated in the new draft Dublin City Development plan. I was active in organising for attendance at the latest COP26 demo and spoke at the demo also.

 https://twitter.com/catzstocker/status/1457004486946443272?s=21

Yes absolutely

Yes

Other Assorted Policies

Yes

Yes – this is an absolutely key issue for me. I’ve been part of the NMH campaign for years and have campaigned also for education equality and been involved in the set up of local ET schools. My own children attend an ET school and I love it – it’s a wonderful school and a wonderful ethos but it’s much further from my home than the two schools within 5-10 minutes walking distance which are, unfortunately, single sex and of catholic ethos. It is a complete anathema in 21st century Ireland that we still have this church domination of public services. I would call strongly for a citizen’s assembly to address the steps needed for full divestment.

Yes

Seanad Reform

Yes

I do believe the Seanad is massively in need of reform and should be representative of and voted upon by the entire electorate. However, I’m uncertain of the merits of simply replicating a Dáil election. I would be interested in exploring the opportunity to elect a Seanad which represents different facets of civil society, especially those traditionally underrepresented in decision making, including migrant community representation, LGBTQIA representation, women’s rights representatives, children’s rights representatives, representatives for older citizens, and other facets of Irish life, such as indigenous business, the economy, the creative sector, education, Northern Ireland and the diaspora.

Yes

We need your help

To ensure that we can bring about a new way of doing politics that prioritises the benefit of the many over the privilege of the few based on a shared commitment to the common good and on the enduring values of solidarity and fairness.