‘Minister for Dublin’ needed, says business group chief

Dublin Chamber holds first in-person agm dinner since outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic

The president of the business lobby group Dublin Chamber has called for the Government to consider introducing a minister with responsibility for the capital city.

Vincent Harrison, president of Dublin Chamber, said if a directly elected mayor for Dublin is not introduced then a Cabinet member should be given responsibility for improving Dublin.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of the business group, Mr Harrison said a new plan was needed to “re-energise the city centre in particular”, which had been “dormant” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

An upcoming Citizens’ Assembly on whether Dublin should have a directly elected mayor was a chance to consider “how best the city should be run”, he said.


“From Dublin Chamber’s perspective, it’s about delegating the right power and responsibility for the job, whether that rests with a directly elected mayor or with a member of Cabinet,” he said.

“If we cannot provide these powers at the county level, then why not a minister for Dublin? We already have a Minister for Rural Affairs” said Mr Harrison.

The speech from Mr Harrison, who is also managing director of Dublin Airport, did not reference the major staffing problems facing the airport at present which has led to lengthy queues at security for passengers in recent weeks.

Dublin Chamber of Commerce represents more than 1,300 businesses and about 500 business figures attended the agm dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin, on Thursday.

Office ‘not dead’

As businesses emerge from the worst impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Harrison told those gathered the office was “not dead”.

Hybrid or flexible working arrangements were now the “norm for many businesses”, but there was no “one size fits all” when it came to a return to the office, he said. Direct human contact was still “crucial” for businesses and workplaces, he said.

Housing remained the “dominant challenge” facing Dublin city, and was an issue with “no quick fixes”, said Mr Harrison.

The businessman called for the planning process to be reformed “as an enabler rather than a mechanism for delay”.

“Our country needs the economic and financial support of a successful Dublin, and much hinges on the delivery of vital infrastructure, whether that’s MetroLink, the Dart programme, or progress on the seemingly precarious nature of Dublin’s water supply and energy security,” he said.

The speed at which large public transport projects could be built would be crucial, given “how long major infrastructure projects can take in Ireland”, he said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times