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Dublin Citizens' Assembly votes to recommend directly elected mayor with significant powers

At its final meeting today, members of the assembly voted on what recommendations to make in a report to be sent to the Oireachtas.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY on a directly elected mayor for Dublin has voted to propose a plebiscite on the matter, as well as recommending that the mayor’s powers be significantly extended.

At its final meeting today, members of the assembly voted on what recommendations to make in a report to be sent to the Oireachtas, including the powers of the mayor and local government, the length of a directly elected mayor’s term and whether there should be mechanisms in place to remove the mayor.

Some 59% of the assembly voted in favour of a Dublin plebiscite on a directly elected mayor, while 63% said that the plebiscite should include the powers of the mayor and the structures required to support such a role.

Some 87% of the assembly believe the mayor’s term should be five years – it is currently a year-long term.

The vast majority of members – 97% – said there should be a mechanism to remove the mayor from office.

The assembly voted in favour of suggesting a number of new powers for the mayor in its report, including changing or introducing local taxes (88%) and raising funds from markets, investments or loans (70%).

Assembly members were also asked if the role of councillor should be made a full-time one, which 90% agreed with. Some 94% responded affirmatively to the question: “Should councillors’ salaries be more reflective of a full-time commitment?”

Speaking at the conclusion of today’s meeting the Chairman of the Dublin Assembly, Jim Gavin, said the assembly members “have thoroughly interrogated and understood our terms of reference to recommend what type of Directly Elected Mayor is appropriate for Dublin.

“In doing so they have voted to create a powerful and substantial figurehead to lead, represent and be accountable for our capital city, similar to other major international cities.

“The members of the Assembly have spoken loud and clear on local government reform. Their recommendations will represent a major change in how our city is run and will, I believe, transform Dublin for the better.”

The Assembly has now concluded its formal meetings that took place over a series of weekends from April-October. Over that time Assembly members were addressed by a range of local government experts, political scientists, international mayors from cities equivalent in size and scale to Dublin, serving and former politicians, and the CEOs of the four Dublin local authorities among others.

These discussions informed the questions that were put to members on today’s ballot papers that included: the extent of the Directly Elected Mayor’s powers alongside local government; the role of and fundraising capacity of the Mayor alongside local government; the election of the mayor and the role of local councillors; and the local government structures to support and work alongside the new mayor.

At today’s meeting, Assembly members agreed the questions on five ballot papers covering all of these areas and issues that were subsequently voted on throughout the day.

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