A directly elected mayor for Dublin

Dangers of overcentralisation

Sir, – The recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly (“Powerful directly elected mayor for Dublin proposed by Citizens’ Assembly”, News, October 1st) are overly ambitious in seeking to grant the new proposed mayoral office control over 21 policy areas.

The suggestions to grant a new mayor an oversight role into aspects not already undertaken by the four Dublin councils, such as those into policing (which could be potentially introduced within a new Dublin metropolitan police force structure), into healthcare (given intended regionalisation of the HSE structures), and particularly emergency services have merit and would give credibility to the new role.

However, while it is welcome that a majority of the assembly voted to support retaining the four existing Dublin councils (they had been asked whether they wanted a single Dublin City and County Council behemoth or a litany of weak town councils as alternatives), deep concerns should persist about the intended sustaining of the powers and finances of these councils into the future once co-existing alongside a directly elected mayor.

As a case in point, a key point of contention will arise due to the fact that 72 per cent of the assembly voted to recommend giving control of planning to a new mayor within the next five years, which would usurp the role of the councils where there should be an onus to respect the comprehensive development plans compiled and tailored by each individual local authority every six years.


In an overall context, as a councillor for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, I believe it is important that decisions affecting its population of over 200,000 should continue to be dictated as much as is possible by local voices – with its commercial rates and property tax revenues generated locally reinvested locally – and it would seem inevitable that transferring a cascade of 21 policy areas to a mayor would lead to palpable overcentralisation and corresponding remoteness in decision-making.

It was somewhat eyebrow-raising that a question was put to the assembly as to whether to give itself, the assembly, a permanent role in the structure of local government and it was not altogether surprising that this was passed comfortably.

As, however, most of the assembly were randomly selected on an unelected basis, much forethought by the Government would be necessary to determine how effectively powerful the assembly would continue to be before perpetually granting such significant influence. – Yours, etc,


(Fine Gael),

Dún Laoghaire

Rathdown County

Council Offices,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.