Fingal councillors spurn Varadkar over Dublin mayor

Minister supported proposal for directly elected mayor

Leo Varadkar: served on the council before he was elected to the Dáil. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leo Varadkar: served on the council before he was elected to the Dáil. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Councillors in Fingal spurned lobbying efforts by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to get them to support the proposal for a directly elected Dublin mayor.

Fingal County Council vetoed the mayor proposal this week after it had been supported by the three other local authorities in the capital – Dublin City, South Dublin and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

Mr Varadkar contacted the councillors, both Fine Gael and Independent, last weekend before Monday night’s vote, which effectively killed off the current proposal.

Those contacted include Fine Gael’s Eithne Loftus, Joan Maher and Anthony Lavin, as well as Independent councillor Anne Devitt, who was previously a member of Fine Gael.

Adequate powers
Mr Varadkar, a TD for Dublin West, had previously expressed an interest in running for the office if it was created with adequate powers.

His constituency is based in Fingal, and Mr Varadkar served on the council before he was elected to the Dáil in 2007.

When asked previously if he would run for the position of mayor if it was created, the Minister said he “would not rule it out”.

He added that if the position had substantial powers it would be a “job that anyone in politics would covet”.

He also said the position should have executive power over planning, transport, housing, regional development, promotion and enterprise.

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said “he spoke to councillors giving his opinion that there should be a directly elected mayor, and there should be a vote on it by the people of Dublin”.

It is understood some of the arguments he put forward to councillors were that Fingal would not be left behind other areas of Dublin, as was feared, and that the council would be blamed for blocking a plebiscite on the proposal.

The other Ministers in the Fingal area, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and Minister for Health James Reilly, did not lobby councillors in advance of the vote.