Dublin Lord Mayor says Government could ‘look like fools’ on April 1st

Dublin City Council to vote on proposal tonight, to be followed by the three other local authorities

The Government “will look like fools” on April 1st if Dubliners are blocked from deciding whether to have a directly elected mayor, Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn has said.

Mr Quinn was speaking ahead of the Dublin City Council vote tonight on whether to allow the mayoral proposal to be put to a plebiscite of Dublin residents on May 23rd.

The city council will be the first of the four Dublin local authorities to vote on whether to give Dubliners the right to decide if they want a mayor. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, South Dublin and Fingal will all hold their votes on March 31st.

If any one of the four councils votes against holding the referendum, the proposition of having a directly elected mayor for Dublin will be dropped. A majority of the council membership in each local authority must vote in favour rather than just a majority of councillors who turn up on the night of the vote.

The city council is expected to vote yes tonight, but Fingal councillors look likely to veto the plebiscite next week.


Mr Quinn said there had been “absolutely no requirement” to have intercession of the councillors before putting the vote to the people. “I have not heard any explanation from the Government for this quadruple lock. Councillors have never been given a veto in relation to any other aspect of local government reform.”

Mr Quinn said he didn't think Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan was deliberately blocking the public vote, and he said Taoiseach Enda Kenny had publicly spoken of his support for the proposal.

However, he said they had allowed officials in the Department of the Environment to put a hazard in the way of the vote going ahead. "One would be worried about the mindset in the Custom House. They have used this process to give the illusion of local democracy, but in reality they don't want councils to run anything and if this proposal goes through there would be a transfer of power from the permanent officials in Government to the mayor and councillors."

Mr Quinn said he still hoped councillors in all local authorities would allow the public to decide the matter. "It would be remarkable if any Dublin councillor turned around and said 'I don't want the people of Dublin to have their say on this issue'."

He added that there would be ample opportunity, even after the public vote, to address concerns local authorities had about the structure of the office. But he said it would be extremely embarrassing for the Government if the result of decisions on March 31st meant the public were not given their say. “If Phil Hogan and Enda Kenny wake up on April 1st and the proposal has failed because one local authority vetoed it, or just not enough councillors turned up to vote, they will look like fools.”

All parties on the city council have said they expect the vote to be passed tonight. Fianna Fáil group leader Mary Fitzpatrick said the people of Dublin should have their say, but she didn't believe there was enthusiasm in Government for the new office.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times