Having read through 130 pages of Minister Gormley’s green paper on local government reform of yesterday, it strikes me as it did Olivia O’Leary that in order to have a true accountable powerful Mayor of Dublin City, that individual must be given authority which surpasses even that of a Minister.
Do you think that the Fianna Fail cronies will allow an individual to gain that kind of power?
Lets assume for a moment that a directly elected Mayor for the county of Dublin were voted in. Who would it be? Ivan Yeates believes that the favourites are charismatic Senator, David Norris followed by Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell, FF’s Eoin Ryan or even Ruairi Quinn of the Labour Party. If you are to take the celebrity out of the equation and reply solely on the political, I truly believe it would be a Fine Gael Mayor, won on transfers from the Labour party. This of course adds fuel to the fire that burns in Minister Gormely’s office. Why would Fianna Fail allow a Fine Gael Mayor to hold the kind of power that is normally reserved for ministerial office and would they expect that person to tow the line in terms of budgets, provision of schooling, transport etc.
I applaud Minister Gormley in releasing this Green Paper, but I reiterate that which I have been saying since election 2007, Directly elected Mayors will not be the panacea for local government that he hopes it might.
Real change will require a seismic shift in the attitudes towards the funding of local government. Rates would probably have to return and the oversight duties of locally elected Councillors strengthened to ensure accountability in the office of a directly elected Mayor.
As my Fine Gael colleague in the Dail Deputy Phil Hogan stated earlier today, this green paper will probably be consigned to the dust.