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Would you like to decide who lives here? You won't get a say on it just yet

The government have put down a counter motion to the Green Party’s bill for a directly-elected mayor for Dublin.

Dublin's Mansion House.
Dublin's Mansion House.
Image: Shutterstock/Darren Pierse Kelly

THE GOVERNMENT ARE delaying Fianna Fáil’s bill for a directly-elected mayor for Dublin until next year.

This is due to there being a commitment in the programme for a partnership government to consider directly elected mayors in cities as part of wider potential local government reform measures.

counter motion to the Green Party’s bill on the same issue is also being tabled.

It’s understood the government is not opposed to the idea of a directly-elected mayor in principle – but believes that there needs to be wider consultation and discussion on the issue.

Therefore, Minister Simon Coveney sought approval from Cabinet today to decline the second reading of the Fianna Fáil bill until 30 June 2017.

Earlier today, Fianna Fáil’s Dublin South West TD and spokesperson for Dublin, John Lahart said he was confident his bill would be passed by the Oireachtas this week.

Under the party’s proposal, every citizen in Dublin city and county would get to vote in a plebiscite in May 2018, with first mayoral elections  held in May 2019.

Speaking ahead of the debate tonight, he said Dublin currently has four local authorities, four chief executives, four mayors, 183 councillors, and countless state agencies in Dublin, and often they competing against each other rather than together.

22/11/2016. Lord Mayor Elections (L to R) Fianna Fail TD for Dublin West Jack Chambers, Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Dublin, John Lahart TD and Senator Catherine Ardaghre. Source: Leah Farrell

Lahart used losing the Web Summit to Lisbon as one such reason as to why Dublin should have a directly-elected mayor.

“I think one of the most dispiriting interviews about Dublin in the last number of years was that with Paddy Cosgrave on Marian [Finuncane] on Saturday when he said Dublin didn’t have the capacity to hold an event with 53,000 delegates and we lost the web summit.”

“A directly elected mayor would provide singular leadership to this structure,” said Lahart, adding that the position would move beyond “ceremonial purpose”.

Dublin spokesperson 

Admitting that he is a “jackeen” – as Dublin spokesperson – he said bringing in a directly-elected mayor for other cities like Cork or Limerick, would “confuse matters”.

The government’s standpoint is that other cities may well be considered in the wider context of local government reform contained in the programme for government.

The Green Party, who also has a bill for a directly elected mayor for the capital, said it would like to see a directly-elected mayor rolled out for cities around Ireland.

If and when introduced, how would the new office be paid for?

“I would see it as cost neutral, in that it would be met by the existing resources of the four local authorities,” said Lahart.

22/11/2016. Green Party Private Members Bills Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Source: Leah Farrell

Speaking about the Green Party bill, Eamon Ryan said the funding for the new office would be be found within existing resources.

“We know we can do this without putting an additional burden on the tax payer,” he said.

Ryan said it is a move away from “unelected managers who aren’t answerable to anyone”.

He said it is “without a doubt a reduction of power of county managers, making them answerable to a directly elected mayor”.

When asked if county manager’s salaries would be impacted due to much of their responsibilities being transferred to the mayor, the Green Party leader said:

“It is not a cost issue it is a democratic issue.”

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