DUBLIN WILL have a directly elected mayor next year for the first time since the foundation of the State, Minister for the Environment John Gormley has announced.
The mayor, will be paid the same salary as a Government Minister, will have responsibility for transport, planning and waste management across the four Dublin local authorities.
“2010 will see the direct election by the people of the Dublin region of a highly visible and accountable mayor who will have the authority and powers to deliver real leadership for the city and region,” said Mr Gormley.
“The mayor’s leadership will derive from a suite of substantial powers across the functions of local government.
“I also believe that by virtue of the breadth of the mayor’s democratic mandate, he or she will be an extremely strong political voice speaking on behalf of Dubliners in local, regional and national politics,” he added.
Mr Gormley said that the directly elected mayor, who will have powers similar to those of the London mayor, will be chair of the Dublin Transport Authority with a direct role in the development of transport strategy in the capital.
He added that the mayor would oversee the implementation by the four Dublin local authorities of agreed regional strategies. The mayor would also be responsible for bringing key public and private sector partners together to promote a dynamic and enterprising city region.
“I am confident that the mayor will raise the profile of Dublin, enhance local democracy and accountability and lead to the provision of a more effective and integrated public service across the city and region,” said Mr Gormley.
He added that the election would take place next year in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government to bring in the new system for Dublin by 2011.
Mr Gormley said the issue of funding local government would be dealt with by the Commission on Taxation which was due to report in the summer.
The White Paper on the future of local government would be delayed until the commission’s recommendations could be considered.
The Minister’s announcement was dismissed by Fine Gael environment spokesman Phil Hogan.
“Instead of giving Dublin what it needs, John Gormley’s proposals are little more than half-baked and will fail miserably.” Mr Hogan said the mayor had no clearly, defined responsibilities and questions about which decisions would be made by the mayor, or the councils or central government were still up in the air.
“Holding the election in 2010, out of line with the regular local and European elections, makes absolutely no sense. The election for the mayor should coincide with local elections, to do otherwise is farcical and will, at the very least, only depress turnout,” said Mr Hogan.
“Meanwhile the people of Dublin still suffer from a lack of services from local government. In contrast to John Gormley’s spin, Fine Gael set out a comprehensive reform package for local government in our document, ‘Power to the People’, that included plans for a directly-elected Dublin mayor with real powers from 2014.”