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Bertie Ahern to address Citizens' Assembly on directly elected mayor for Dublin

The former Taoiseach will speak to the 80 members of the Assembly at 10.45 am on ‘The Reality of Devolution’.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
Image: Niall Carson via PA Images

THE THIRD WEEKEND meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly on a directly elected mayor  will take place in the Grand Hotel, Malahide, today and tomorrow, with talks and discussions on local government structures.

The Dublin Citizens’ Assembly is tasked with considering the type of directly elected mayor best suited for Dublin, and to bring forward proposals to the Oireachtas.

Bertie Ahern is scheduled to give a talk titled ‘The Reality of Devolution’ and citizens will be presented with a case study from Limerick by Tim O’Connor, chairman of the advisory group for a Directly Elected Mayor in Limerick.

Ireland’s third largest city voted in 2019 to make their mayor a directly elected position, rather than the common practice of allowing local councillors to choose a chairperson or mayor annually.

Other speakers will include Graham Doyle, Secretary General of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, discussing the benefits and risks of a Directly Elected Mayor on this portfolio, and Dr Theresa Reidy, UCC, speaking about local government finance.

It’s planned that Limerick’s election for a directly elected mayor would take place alongside local elections, which will happen in 2024.

However to allow the mayor to sit at least a full five-year term, they will be allowed to hold office until the following local elections in 2029.

A single person will be tasked with running Limerick for seven years with authority on housing, road safety, water services, strategic management and environmental services.

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Peter Burke expects the final bill to be published in the coming weeks before being enacted by the Oireachtas in order for the election to take place this year.

He hailed the move “the most progressive and the biggest reform of local government since the foundation of the State”.

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The 2019 plebiscites in which Limerick voted for a directly elected mayor also included Cork and Waterford, who voted against the position in their own cities.

The government opted not to include Dublin in the plebiscites and to instead hold citizens’ assemblies before a vote, in order to discuss the added complexities of the role  in such a large metropolitan area.

Based on the timetable of Limerick’s implementation, if a plebiscite were held and approved by Dublin voters this year, the first directly elected mayor of Dublin could take office as soon as 2024.

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