Ballot on mayor may fall in Fingal

by Gazette Reporter

Several Fine Gael and Labour councillors in Fingal County Council will vote against a plebiscite on the establishment of a directly elected mayor for the whole of Dublin.
The issue is to come to a vote in Fingal County Council on Monday, March 31, when Fingal councillors will debate and vote on whether or not they would like to see the proposal put to a plebiscite of Dublin residents on May 23.
All four Dublin councils will be asked to vote on the proposal. If any of the local authorities vote against holding the referendum, the proposition to have a directly elected mayor for Dublin will be dropped. Councillors in Fingal are expected to veto the proposal.
Mayor of Fingal Kieran Dennison (FG) has made clear his intention to vote against the plebiscite, saying: “Were it simply a matter of asking the people to indicate their desire for [an elected mayor] I would have no problem but this goes much further than that.
“The plebiscite is on a very specific proposal. I really feel that it requires much more thought and needs to show efficiencies and savings over the current system.”
He said it had been made clear at the outset that a proposal for a directly elected mayor had to be subject to the need to maximise efficiency in local government arrangements, to avoid cost increases and to achieve savings where possible.
“There are no savings in the proposal. The office of the directly elected mayor is to have a cabinet and an executive which will be overseen by an assembly. None of these is costed,” he said.
Cllr Dennison said that in addition, the proposals would involve setting up a separate IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Failte Ireland, OPW, National Roads Authority, National Transport Authority and police service for Dublin. Staff and responsibilities would be transferred to the office of mayor from those Government departments responsible for transport, tourism, sport, arts, heritage, environment and justice.
Cllr Tom O’Leary (FG) also indicated his plans to vote against the proposal.
“Why should we risk the bright future of Fingal by handing power over to one elected mayor who will control the region with an unknown team of nine unelected people?
“I am voting for Fingal. I am voting against this proposal as it is currently drafted,” he said.
Labour Cllr Ciaran Byrne also plans to veto the proposal. He said: “I don’t believe that it is worth undermining the current functioning local government structure in the four Dublin councils in the hope that this will somehow be compensated by as yet undefined powers of a directly elected mayor.”
Cllr David McGuinness (FF) said his party would support the proposal however.
“I think Fine Gael and Labour should give the people of the capital an opportunity to have their say. It seems like they fear the people following the rejection of the Government Seanad-abolition plans. Fine Gael and Labour should quickly desist from their dictatorial political style.”
The plebiscite proposal must be approved by at least 12 councillors at the special council meeting on Monday (50% of members), rather than a simple majority of those in attendance on the day.

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