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Could Dublin have its own Boris Johnson in a few years? Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Press Association Images
Dublin Mayor

Revealed: Here are the powers a directly-elected Dublin mayor could have

A directly-elected mayor would appoint a cabinet of politicians and non-politicians to administer the Dublin Metropolitan Region with responsibility for a wide range of areas, according to a draft report.

A DRAFT REPORT prepared by Dublin’s four local authorities recommends that a directly-elected mayor for the capital be given wide-ranging executive powers that would dramatically alter the way many services are administered in the city and surrounding areas.

A report prepared by the forum considering the introduction of a directly-elected mayor for the Dublin Metropolitan Area proposes to transfer powers from some State agencies and government departments to a newly-created mayor’s office.

The four councils – the city council, South Dublin, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, and Fingal – came together earlier this year to establish a forum for consultation on a directly-elected mayor.

In its draft report, seen by, it states that there is a strong public backing for the idea with an online poll showing 78 per cent of respondents in favour of a directly-elected ‘first citizen’.

The report recommends that the matter be put to the people of Dublin in a referendum in May 2014 and that, if approved, an election for a mayor would take place on the same day as the next local elections.

Accountable to the Assembly

The mayor’s term of office would be five years with the opportunity for re-election. Nominations could be sought either through a registered political party or with 1,000 signatures from people on the electoral register in Dublin.

The mayor would appoint a cabinet that could be made up not just of councillors but of other persons, opening up the possibility that experts in certain fields could be involved in the running of the capital.

A Dublin Assembly of local councillors would hold the mayor and his cabinet to account with the ability to remove the mayor from power by a two-thirds majority.

The Assembly would also have to approve the mayor’s Cabinet and his or her annual budget. All meetings between the mayor and the assembly would be held in public.

The Dublin Assembly would consist of five councillors form each local authority as well as the chairs of each LA. The councillors would be nominated using a ‘group’ election system, which is similar to the D’Hondt system, on the basis of party and independent strength.

Transfer of powers

The most significant change brought about by the proposed mayor system would be, according to the draft report, the transfer of certain powers and funding for state agencies, such as the gardaí and the IDA, to the office of the directly-elected mayor.

The draft report proposes that the mayor would have “executive and strategic” responsibility for transport and traffic, environment, waste management, tourism, economic development, housing, planning, and fire services among others.

This would mean that bodies such as the National Transport Authority, the National Roads Authority, the IDA, Enterprise Ireland would have some of their responsibilities and funding in Dublin transferred to the office of the directly-elected mayor.

While in the case of housing, the Department of Environment’s responsibilities for the Dublin area would switch to the office of the mayor. This would also be the case with the Office of Public Works and its responsibilities for public parks such as the Phoenix Park.

On a national level the mayor would also have a strategic role in the areas of water, policing, emergency services, education, health and welfare, social services and promoting the Irish language in Dublin.

The forum believes that 100 per cent of the local property tax collected in Dublin and an unspecified percentage of the forthcoming water charges should be retained in the capital.

‘Risk of unsuitable person’

Other changes would see councillors who chair the four Dublin local authorities no longer holding roles like Lord Mayor or Cathaoirleach, but they will instead be seen as deputies to the elected mayor and will have representational roles in their respective areas.

In its draft report, the forum the says that the rationale for such a office is based on then need for a “strong coherent local government and accountability for the Dublin Metropolitan area”, noting that the current system of governance is “not sufficiently robust”.

The report says that a directly-elected executive mayor creates “a strong focal point for effective and accountable decision making” and also identifies “scope for savings and efficiencies” in consolidating all of the issues that affect the capital under one office.

Concerns are raised about concentrating executive power in the hands of one person and their appointed team, with the report stating that there is a “risk of an unsuitable person being elected to such an office”.

What happens now

The draft report is currently being sent to over 100 councillors for their feedback before it is submitted to the Minister for the Environment.

Phil Hogan is then likely to make changes and send it back to the councils in the New Year. Each of the four councils will then have to vote on the proposal by March.

An absolute majority of councillors on all four councils will be needed in order for the referendum to be held, at the same time as the local and European Elections next year.

It’s understood that if the proposal is not passed by all four councils, there will be no plebiscite.

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