Citizens’ Assembly to discuss structure of Dublin councils

Government to establish two new assemblies on gender equality and local government

A Citizens’ Assembly on Dublin will examine a number of issues, indicating its remit will be broader than the question of a directly elected mayor for the capital. File photograph: Frank Miller

A Citizens’ Assembly on Dublin will examine a number of issues, indicating its remit will be broader than the question of a directly elected mayor for the capital. File photograph: Frank Miller

 

Changing the structure of councils in Dublin – where there are currently four local authorities – is to be discussed by a new Citizens’ Assembly on governing the capital.

The Cabinet this week agreed to establish two new Citizens’ Assemblies in the coming period: one on gender equality and one on local government in Dublin.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Dublin assembly would examine a number of issues, indicating its remit will be broader than the question of a directly elected mayor for the capital, as has already been flagged.

Plebiscites were held last month in Cork City, Limerick City and County, and Waterford City and County on whether they should have directly elected mayors. Only Limerick approved the proposal.

The assembly for Dublin will consider the various issues involved before voters in the capital are asked for their views.

“That assembly will examine the whole issue of local government in Dublin and how it can be better organised,” the Taoiseach said.

“That will include the issue of a directly elected mayor but also whether or not we should continue to have four councils for Dublin, and what powers could be transferred from central government to Dublin as well.”

There are currently four councils in Dublin: Dublin City, South Dublin, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown, and Fingal. Galway will also be asked to vote on a directly elected mayor in 2021, the same year the new Limerick mayor will take up office.

“What we would anticipate though is putting the question to the people of Dublin and the people of Galway, probably in 2021,” Mr Varadkar said. “So, you could, at the same time we are electing the new mayor of Limerick, put the question to Galway and Dublin.

“It would be interesting seeing what additional powers from central government or State agencies that we could transfer to the mayor of Limerick. And in many ways, this is going to be the pilot and perhaps before we go back to the people of Cork and Waterford, we should allow them to see how it works out for Limerick.”

Gender equality

The Dublin assembly will come after the gender equality assembly, which will begin in October and will have six months to complete its work. Mr Varadkar said it would mark the next step in making Ireland the first country in the world to have true gender equality.

“In order to do things well, we need to do them in order and the first one will be a Citizens’ Assembly on the issue of equality between men and women,” he said.

“We still have some big gaps and women are still paid less than men, still find it harder to reach the top of their professions and there’s still a very unequal share of the burden of care among men and women.

“Those are the kind of issues we’re going to ask the Citizens’ Assembly to examine and we look forward to the work and look forward to acting on the recommendations when they make them next year.”