Directly elected mayor bill delayed again

Publication of a bill to establish a directly elected mayor for Dublin was again delayed this week.

The Local Government (Dublin Mayor and Regional Authority) Bill 2010, which is to give powers to the proposed directly elected mayor, was not expected to pass before the summer recess of the Dail, but the bill was due to be published.

This follows delays of the original plans to have the elections before the winter.

A very short time frame will exist between the Dail resuming at the start of September and October, Minister John Gormley’s stated month for the elections.

“My aim is that the election of the mayor will take place this year,” said Gormley, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, in the Dail on Thursday.

“The Bill, which must provide for the mayoral electoral process as well as the powers of the mayor and regional authority, is a large and complex item of legislation. I hope to publish it shortly following Government consideration.”

He said that over the summer he would be seeking cross-party support for the legislation.

“I believe one can get through legislation quicker if one tries to develop a consensus before one enters the Chamber. I hope that Members could short-circuit many issues by meeting to talk through them, to ascertain where a level of agreement exists on those issues and where they wished to go with it,” said Gormley.

He told opposition TDs that he is “not doing this for political gain for the Green Party or our coalition partners.”

Answering a question from Labour TD, Ciaran Lynch, Gormley said adversarial politics in this case would be a “total hindrance because after all, this is something to which the Labour Party aspires” – hinting at the Labour Party’s ambitions to take the mayor’s seat, which they are widely predicted to secure.

“It is an opportunity for the parties opposite to come forward with written submissions on which Members can then focus. I can honestly state that I will devote as much time as is necessary over the summer months to deal with this issue,” said Gormley.

A draft of the bill was published in February. The directly elected mayor is to have powers over planning, transport, and waste, and will have powers to direct the current Dublin councils to comply with regional plans. He or she is to chair the Greater Dublin Area transport section of the National Transport Authority.

The current, relatively unknown and powerless, Dublin Regional Authority is expected to be abolished and replaced by the mayor’s office. The minister said that the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government are currently in contact with the four Dublin local authorities about how the new mayor would interact with them.

IMAGE: Photo of Dublin by Peter Barrow for Dublin City Council

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