Directly elected mayor must have real authority
I wish send my congratulations to my colleague, or as they say in the European Parliament, my dear colleague, former Senator Alan Kelly who is now a Member of the European Parliament. We are congratulating many people who have been elected to positions in local authorities around the country, mayoralties and so on. It is right we should congratulate them. However, we are reminded by this, unfortunately, of the constraints and limitations in the powers of elected mayors, deputy mayors and local authority members throughout the country. This is a timely occasion to raise this issue. Last week I asked the Leader of the Seanad to arrange a debate in the House about Dublin. In early or mid-May, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government made an announcement in respect of a directly elected mayor for Dublin and, perhaps, other cities.
I would like an early debate on how and in what manner the Minister intends the directly elected mayor to operate, because he has made significant claims in that regard. He said on 13 May, “I am making the most significant change to leadership in Dublin since the foundation of the State.” That is a big claim and I would like to understand how the mayoralty of Dublin will work. What sort of legislation is it proposed to introduce? I presume there will be legislation, because if there is not, there will be no changes in the powers.
I, like many others in the country, would enthusiastically support the position of directly elected mayor, but it must be a position of power. It must be a position that has real authority associated with it. Otherwise, it simply grafts a post onto the existing weak system of local government. I made the point previously in the House that we have a very weak parliament in Ireland. We have an even weaker system of local government. We now have a good opportunity to debate these issues.