Idea of four mayors for Dublin deemed a ‘disaster’

‘Dublin is not four different cities and there would be no co-ordination’

Labour’s Dublin spokesman Kevin Humphreys: “You need one clear voice who speaks for the whole of the city. People in Tallaght and in Swords primarily think of themselves as Dubliners.” Photograph: Alan Betson

The Government has explored the option of creating a directly elected mayor for each of Dublin’s four local authorities, a scenario which Opposition parties say would be a “disaster”.

An ongoing review by the Department of Housing into local government is understood to have looked at a situation where rather than a having a mayor for all of Dublin, voters in each of the capital's four council areas would elect their own mayors.

The long-delayed report is due to be delivered to Minister of State for Local Government John Paul Phelan in early November ahead of its publication. Proposals for a single elected mayor for cities such as Cork, Limerick and Galway were also examined.

The Government has provisionally earmarked October of next year as the date for plebiscites, where the electorate of each city or council area will decide if they wish their mayor to be directly elected.


In 2014, then minister Phil Hogan began a process seeking approval from each of the the four Dublin councils to hold a plebiscite for a directly elected mayor. The initiative foundered when councillors from Fingal voted against the idea, despite the other three councils backing it.

Directly elected

Fianna Fáil and the Green Party last year brought respective private members’ Bills to the Dáil calling for a directly elected mayor of Dublin. They agreed not to press the motions following a Government promise to quickly come up with alternative proposals.

However, the Government’s missed its own June deadline for completing the review and it has still not yet been completed.

Opposition parties are concerned the Government will now pull back from a directly elected executive mayor in favour of four separate mayors.

Fianna Fáil spokesman on Dublin John Lahart said it was now a year since his party brought forward its Bill and nothing had happened.

“We need to be offered only one option, that of one directly elected mayor. Otherwise it’s top-down government. We need a mayor with specific powers in transport, tourism, planning and traffic that can be expanded over time. Having four mayors would just not work.”

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the election of four separate mayors in Dublin would “be a disaster”.

“Dublin is not four different cities and there would be continuous competition and no co-ordination for zoning, housing, planning and transport,” he said.

“We don’t have a situation like this anywhere else. New York has five boroughs, London has 32, yet they have one mayor. We are not in competition with Cork or Galway but with other international cities. It’s ludicrous.”

‘One clear voice’

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said his party agreed with a directly elected mayor but with powers delegated from central government. He said he was not in favour of any councils having their current powers reduced.

Labour’s Dublin spokesman Kevin Humphreys said if a four-mayor option were pursued it would be a “huge wasted opportunity”.

“You need one clear voice who speaks for the whole of the city. People in Tallaght and in Swords primarily think of themselves as Dubliners.”

The Social Democrats have also backed a single executive mayor for Dublin.

The review has also revisited the controversial decision to abolish town councils ahead of the 2014 local elections. It is understood the decision will stand. However, there is likely to be a recommendation to reduce the size of some local electoral areas which might favour larger parties and prove contentious with independents and smaller political groups.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times