Sandyford Kicks off European Election Campaign with Open Candidate Event

Last Wednesday (17th of April), Ireland’s largest business improvement district, Sandyford Business District (SBD) hosted a European Parliament election hustings featuring candidates from across the political divide, who aspire to represent the Dublin constituency in the new mandate.

The event provided a platform for robust dialogue on both European and local issues impacting people in Dublin and nationwide. The event was held in the district at the cutting-edge events space, Dynamic Events, and it was attended by representatives of a large number of businesses across many sectors.

The candidates who constituted the panel included: Aodhán Ó Ríordáin T.D. (Labour), Ciarán Cuffe MEP (Green Party), Cllr. Daithí Doolan (Sinn Féin), Senator Regina Doherty (Fine Gael) and Sinead Gibney (Social Democrats). The event was chaired by former Senator and Managing Director of Rockwood Public Affairs, Lorraine Higgins.

The panellists were asked questions on a number of pertinent topics, including the importance of Ireland’s place in the European Union; housing; sustainability and mobility; and the rise of the far-right in Europe.

Key highlights from the discussion included:

  • Housing: Panellists stressed the urgency of addressing housing shortages, with both Aodhan Ó Ríordáin and Daithí Doolan advocating for increased EU involvement in domestic procurement policy, to remove the red tape that curtails Ireland’s housing supply. Senator Doherty disputed this and said that this was an issue outside of the EU’s remit, but rather a national competency.
  • Immigration: Concerns over rising right-wing rhetoric surrounding immigration were expressed. Candidates highlighted that on the doorsteps, constituents were concerned about insufficient infrastructure and the availability of housing resources to accommodate people. Sinead Gibney called for the issue to be treated with dignity, with Regina Doherty urging the Government to be receptive, but also sensible on the rules around migration as prescribed in the EU.
  • Climate and Sustainability: All candidates spoke of the need for the development of innovative solutions for infrastructure to be developed at a faster pace, in order to facilitate a ‘just transition’. Ciaran Cuffe MEP said shared mobility hubs and mixed-use cities are key to increased rural and urban mobility. The Green Party candidate commended the quiet revolution in climate initiatives that has been undertaken by Sandyford Business District, in particular.
  • Business and Economic Development: Discussions centred around streamlining regulations, supporting local businesses, and capitalising on the potential of the single market, with Senator Doherty noting the importance of promoting competitiveness across the Union. Sinead Gibney said the job displacement on the horizon as a result of artificial intelligence is an issue that the European Union must be prepared to tackle. Ciaran Cuffe and Regina Doherty both advocated for Ireland’s upper rate of corporation tax to remain at 15% and no more.

While providing a platform for the candidates to discuss prescient issues for voters ahead of June’s elections, the event also allowed the panellists to meaningfully engage with the diverse business community within Sandyford Business District. SBD has led the charge on a number of EU projects and initiatives for the benefit of the 1,000 companies and 26,000 people working in the district. These projects include the climate-resiliency scheme IB-Green and the CircularPSP project, which the district is one of the main procurers for.

Ger Corbett, CEO of Sandyford Business District reflected on the event: “SBD was delighted to have had the opportunity to host this informative and thought-provoking discussion, on issues that matter to the district and the businesses in it. The candidates from across the political divide provided great insights and perspectives on what the business community can expect should they be elected, which was hugely beneficial for all present.

Sandyford Business District has a direct interest in the European Union and has been involved with a number of schemes at the European level, including the EU-funded CircularPSP project and the EU-led IB-Green project. We were very pleased to see that sustainable transition and sustainable mobility are a key focus for all of the candidates who participated in our event; two issues that must remain at the fore for Dublin MEPs in the next European mandate.”

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