Draft law to elect Dublin mayor approved

 

THE GOVERNMENT approved draft legislation for a directly-elected mayor of Dublin with “strong executive powers”  at a Cabinet meeting yesterday.

A spokesman for the Green Party said June was “still the target date” for the poll  but it may be later.

“The office of Mayor will have strong executive powers in areas of concern to citizens and that includes transport,” the spokesman added.

The Bill is likely to be published next week, according to sources close to Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment, John Gormley.

It is understood that the holder of the office will have powers to instruct local authority managers on policy. He or she will work in consultation with the four elected councils in the greater Dublin area: Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, South Dublin and Dublin City Council.

The model for the new office will be the directly-elected mayoralty of London. Under the legislation, the Dublin mayor is expected to have authority to generate policies on planning, waste, housing, water and transport.

Senior sources indicated that the Bill would give the mayor authority to direct the chief executives of the various councils to carry out these policies.

However, the mayor would act in close consultation with the elected councillors, whose term of office continues until 2014.

Sources indicated that the office would have real power and they played down concerns that the election would be nothing more than a popularity contest for celebrities. In line with the London experience, powers would accrue to the office over a period of time.

Mr Gormley is finalising a White Paper on local government reform which is expected to be published before Easter.

Fianna Fáil members have expressed concern at a possible reduction in the powers of local government. An internal party committee consisting of three senior Ministers – Noel Dempsey, Batt O’Keeffe and Éamon Ó Cuív – and Chief Whip Pat Carey is compiling a set of proposals for presentation to Mr Gormley and the Government.