New Environment Minister needed for Dublin mayor plan

Campaign group pushes for rescheduling of plebiscite

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Oisín Quinn:  “Whether this process gains energy after the local elections will depend a lot on whether there is someone in the Custom House really driving the issue . . . it needs a more energised minister to drive this.”

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Oisín Quinn: “Whether this process gains energy after the local elections will depend a lot on whether there is someone in the Custom House really driving the issue . . . it needs a more energised minister to drive this.”

Sat, May 10, 2014, 01:00

A campaign to reinstate plans for a directly elected mayor for Dublin has been activated ahead of the local elections.

However, a new minister for the environment is likely to be needed before a vote on the proposition could go ahead, a meeting in the Mansion House was told yesterday.

On the same day as the European and local elections Dubliners were to vote on whether to have an elected mayor but Fingal County Council last March vetoed the holding of the plebiscite.

Legislation published by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan last October required at least half of the councillors in each of the four Dublin local authorities to agree to the public vote. In total, 98 councillors voted in favour and 19 against, but 16 in the 24-seat Fingal County Council, defeating the proposal.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn said the summer Cabinet reshuffle could offer hope of the mayoral vote being rescheduled. “Whether this process gains energy after the local elections will depend a lot on whether there is someone in the Custom House really driving the issue . . . it needs a more energised minister to drive this.”

Labour councillor Dermot Lacey said any new minister would have to battle with the officials in the Department of the Environment to create the new position.

“A new minister would have to win the battle with the most dysfunctional arm of the State, the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government,” he said.

Dublin Chamber of Commerce chief executive Gina Quin said it was a “tragedy” the plebiscite was not going ahead this month. “Every great city needs a great leader,” she said.

The debate about the mayor had become fixated on powers and remit of the role, when it should have focused on the principle of getting the position established, she said.

“The debate got hung up on specific elements of what was a proposal or a discussion document or an outline plan. We need to get the focus back on the principle.”

The Let Dublin Vote campaign has established an online petition at letdublinvote.ie to seek support for rescheduling the plebiscite.