No vote on directly-elected Dublin mayor planned before end of current Government, says Harris

Day of local and European elections had been mooted at a Cabinet meeting as a possible date for a Dublin plebiscite to be held

There is no plan for a plebiscite on whether or not Dublin should have a directly-elected mayor before the end of the current Government, Taoiseach Simon Harris has said.

People in Limerick will be voting on who they want to be the first directly-elected mayor in Ireland on June 7th, the date of local and European elections.

The date had been mooted at a Cabinet meeting last year as a possible date for a Dublin plebiscite to be held but this is not happening.

A plebiscite in Limerick in 2019 approved the creation of the office of directly elected mayor. Similar proposals in Cork and Waterford were defeated the same year.


The Dublin Citizens’ Assembly later voted in favour of creating a powerful new mayor for the capital with wide-ranging responsibilities in 15 policy areas including housing, homelessness, community healthcare, transport, the environment and emergency services.

A report by the Oireachtas Committee on Housing supported the idea of a plebiscite taking place at some point in 2024.

The report also said it “could be run anytime in the next 23 months when many elections are expected to take place”.

On Thursday, Mr Harris said there will not be a plebiscite on a directly-elected mayor for Dublin next month.

He said office of a directly-elected mayor in Limerick will become a potential template for other parts of the country and that he personally thinks there’s “huge benefit” to having directly elected mayors of cities.

However, on the question of a plebiscite taking place before the next general election - which is due to be called by March 2025 at the latest - he said: “in the period of time left to this government I think the focus should be on daily delivery of practical measures that can make a difference for people in their lives.”

He said the Government has not decided on the issue of a plebiscite but that there is “none planned”.

Minister for Housing and Local Government Darragh O’Brien said that Limerick will be a “pathfinder” in relation to changes in local government.

He added: “I really believe that the establishment of a directly elected mayor [in Limerick] could lead to other cities and citizens who would make that decision themselves via plebiscite as to whether there should be a directly elected Mayor of Dublin, and indeed of other cities across our country.”

They were speaking at a press conference launching a new Dublin City Taskforce to be chaired by An Post chief executive David McRedmond.

It has been tasked with making recommendations on improving the city centre’s public realm, safety and experience within a 12-week timeframe.

Concerns about safety in the capital arose last year in the wake of some high profile assaults and the rioting that occurred in November.

According to the Government, the goal is to “make Dublin City Centre a more thriving, attractive, and safe cityscape; and a desirable location to live, work, do business and visit.”

The taskforce will also include representatives of the Garda, National Transport Authority, business, trade unions and culture and arts providers.

“Dublin city centre has always been a vibrant destination for locals, businesses and tourists who come to enjoy all the wonderful amenities it has to offer,” Mr Harris said. “More recently we have seen increased concerns for public safety and a diminished overall experience on our streets.”

He said the taskforce is a response to this.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times