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Dubliners WILL be able to vote for a directly elected mayor if Fianna Fáil gets its way

A private members bill, seen by TheJournal.ie, would see a referendum in 19 months’ time – but the Greens say their Bill is better.

Theresa May becomes PM Former London mayor Boris Johnson is now UK Foreign Secretary Source: Andrew Matthews

DUBLIN WILL HOLD a referendum for a directly elected mayor within two years if a Fianna Fáil proposal is approved by the Dáil.

The party’s Dublin spokesman John Lahart has won party approval for a private members bill which will give all citizens of the capital the choice to decide on whether Dublin will get a mayor with executive powers to run the city.

Under the proposal, every citizen in Dublin city and county will vote in a plebiscite in May 2018. If it passes, Dublin will have its first mayoral elections in May 2019.

The Local Government Bill 2016 is due to be tabled in the Dáil later this month. Lahart wants to establish a consensus with other parties on the best model for the proposal, which could be enacted after Christmas.

The Green Party, which has been working on a similar Bill in 2010, welcomed Fianna Fáil support for a directly elected mayor, but said their Bill has the best chance of success.

shutterstock_175707230 (2) A view of Dublin's docklands. Source: Shutterstock

London model

Speaking to TheJournal.ie in August, Lahart said Dublin needed a directly elected mayor similar to London’s – but with a directly elected assembly keeping tabs on the mayor, guarding against creating an Irish version of Boris Johnson.

The model proposed by Fianna Fáil would give the mayor executive powers, but also fulfill a co-ordinating role for the city for areas such as housing, tourism, arts and transport.

At present there are four mayors in Dublin, mostly ceremonial roles.

Two years ago, Fingal councillors vetoed the proposal for a directly elected mayor, which then required a majority in favour for each of Dublin’s four local authorities.

Lahart’s bill does not set down what executive powers the mayor would have, but provides for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to do so. The Bill states:

The Minister shall, no less than six months prior to the plebiscite date and following a period of public consultation of no less than 12 weeks, cause a copy of the proposals setting out the powers and responsibilities of the proposed directly elected mayor, to be laid before the both Houses of the Oireachtas and such proposals must be approved by resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas.

shutterstock_276262805 The Samuel Beckett Bridge. Source: Shutterstock

Competing bills

The Green Party have been working on a similar Bill since 2010, and say their Local Government (Mayor and Regional Authority of Dublin) Bill 2016 has the best chance of succeeding.

The Greens plan on introducing the Bill in their forthcoming private members’ time.

“We very much look forward to working with Fianna Fáil, and seeking the support of all parties in the Dáil, to make a directly-elected Dublin Mayor a reality,” Green Party leader Eamon Ryan TD said in a statement.

Eamon Ryan Eamon Ryan and Catherine Martin. Source: Rollingnews.ie

Coherent

The Green Party Bill is an updated version of their 2010 Dublin Mayor Bill.

“In our opinion, it is our Bill that has the best chance of success,” Ryan added.

“We had established cross-party support for the bill in 2010, and it had passed all stages in the Dáil. Our Dublin Mayor bill could be enacted very quickly, and come into force in time for the 2019 election cycle.”

Cllr Roderic O’Gorman, Green Party chairman and a councillor in Fingal County Council, said Dublin’s four local authorities cannot change mayors every 12 months and expect coherent leadership.

“Dublin is in the middle of a housing crisis, and is facing transport deadlock in the coming years.

“Our cities need real political leadership, and that means the office of Mayor cannot remain a ceremonial role.”

Read: ‘We need a directly elected mayor to deliver for Dublin. But not someone like Boris’

Read: Dubliners may have to wait five years for a directly-elected mayor

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