Divisions over powers of directly elected Dublin mayor
Transfer of control from Ministers ‘would be viewed with particular concern in Cabinet’
Leo Varadkar: “The mayor could have a strong role in promoting Dublin as a tourist destination in its own right, including events and festivals.”
Divisions are emerging within Government over the proposal from Dublin local authorities to give a number of executive powers to a directly elected mayor.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar believes significant powers could be handed to a new elected mayor’s office, but key elements of the proposal are viewed with scepticism elsewhere in the Government.
Mr Varadkar has told The Irish Times that Dublin needs an elected mayor with executive power over planning, transport, housing, regional development, promotion and enterprise.
However, the notion that a mayor would control inward investment is viewed with doubt elsewhere. “The idea that you would have Dublin IDA setting up offices around the world trying to sell Dublin and the next day IDA Ireland trying to sell Kildare, Carlow, Galway and Longford doesn’t strike one as the most efficient and effective way to use scarce resources,” said a senior source in the Department of Enterprise.
Another well-placed source said the idea of major powers being removed from Ministers would be viewed with “particular concern” by all Cabinet members.
A forum chaired by Dublin Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn submitted plans for an elected mayor to Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan in December. It called for control over transport, traffic, economic development, planning, tourism and environmental questions to be given to a new mayor.
Mr Hogan is to respond before councillors in the four Dublin authorities decide next month on whether Dubliners should vote on the day of the May local election for or against an elected city mayor. The mayor’s exact powers would be decided later by the Government.
Although there is concern in Government circles over the lack of detailed costings by the forum, Mr Varadkar said there is scope for a transition period.
Seen by some as a potential candidate for the post of elected mayor, Mr Varadkar said he believed functions linked to Dublin in the National Transport Authority should be transferred.
“These would include capital investment, taxi regulation, the contracts and subvention of Dublin Bus, investment in cycling infrastructure,” the Minister said. “Also the Luas is a unique service to Dublin and it would make sense for that to be transferred.”
“The mayor could also have a strong role in promoting Dublin as a tourist destination in its own right, including events and festivals. This role is currently overseen by Fáilte Ireland. ”