Directly-elected Dublin Mayor could be positive change to democracy

The events of recent days give rise to very important issues which go beyond the personalities concerned. There is a need to have a debate on the nature and quality of representation and what we can expect from politicians and people in public life. I have just come from a meeting of the Joint Committee on the Constitution which is wrestling with issues pertaining to the electoral system and the nature and quality of representation that Deputies and public representatives are able to offer.

Leaving aside who he or she may be, the introduction of a directly elected mayor of Dublin has the potential to bring about positive and important change to our system in terms of representation and the quality of democracy in the city. I note in this morning’s newspapers that the Local Government (Office of the Dublin Mayor and Regional Authority of Dublin) Bill was apparently discussed in Cabinet yesterday. Can they not publish the scheme of the Bill now? If we have to await its publication next week or in the coming weeks, it will not be possible to have the quality of debate we need on such a profound change. I strongly support the proposal in principle and I want it to work.

There may not be sufficient time for proper debate on the very real changes that could come about. We may need to amend a host of legislation if the proposal is to work. It is not possible to introduce a stand-alone Bill on a directly elected mayor of Dublin without amending local government legislation and, perhaps, the planning and development Acts. If I argue that we need more time when the Bill is published sometime in the next three or four weeks, I do not want to be accused of raising obstacles simply because I want to debate it properly. I ask for sufficient time to tease out the issues and if we have to amend other legislation to improve the quality of our democracy, let us do so.