Local Government Reform (Amendment) (Directly Elected Mayor of Dublin) Bill 2016: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to enable the holding of a plebiscite for the election of a directly elected mayor of Dublin and to provide for related matters.

The Bill is clear and concise in its intention. It provides for the holding of a plebiscite, a vote of all eligible voters in the four administrative areas of Dublin, to decide whether legislation should be brought forward to provide for an office of directly elected mayor, to be chairperson and leader of an authority or other body for the Dublin metropolitan area and, for such other matters relating to local government in the Dublin area as the Minister considers appropriate.

The timeline for implementation of the proposal is clear. The proposed plebiscite is to be held no later than May 2018 and no less than six months prior to this date. Following a period of public consultation of no less than 12 weeks, the Minister will cause a copy of the proposals setting out the powers and responsibilities of the directly elected mayor to be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and such proposals must be approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas before being put to the people of Dublin for approval. If the plebiscite is passed, elections for a directly elected mayor will be held in conjunction with the local and European elections in 2019.

This proposal will enable and empower the people of Dublin to decide for themselves whether they want to elect a mayor for the capital. It will be the first such opportunity for the people of Dublin to decide this question in such a way. Once the process is approved, the Dáil and all of the people of Dublin, including stakeholders and citizens, will be empowered, through the public consultation process embedded in the proposal, to shape and influence the powers a directly elected mayor would be entitled to exercise. The Bill provides for the provision of any other legislation that might be required to improve local government in Dublin, as the Minister and the Dáil considers appropriate.

Embedded in the Bill is a public consultation process of at least 12 weeks, enabling all stakeholders and citizens with an interest in the future of the capital a substantial say in the design and shape of the functions, responsibilities and powers of a directly elected Dublin mayor. The Bill allows for increased powers and functions for the four Dublin local authorities. I know that I speak for all my Dublin colleagues on both sides of the House when I say that in moving any measure to address the lack of leadership in the Dublin region we want to consolidate and enhance the vital role and functions of our councillor colleagues in Fingal, South Dublin, Dún Laoghaire and Dublin city.

Dublin is in trouble across a wide range of key areas, from housing and homelessness to transportation, tourism, crime, drugs and more. The cultural and artistic life of the capital lacks co-ordination and leadership. The population of the capital is to increase by at least 500,000 people by 2050, yet we have no plans to deal with such dramatic change. Dublin is crying out for real political leadership to help to improve the lives of all Dubliners and, at the very least, co-ordinate some of the functions of the four separate local authorities, a function that simply is not provided for. Of equal importance is for stakeholders in Dublin to have one person or champion working in partnership with all those with a stake in Dublin to help to build a better future for the capital and to help all Dubliners to achieve their full potential. Dublin needs to position itself to compete as an international city region against other international cites to ensure it grows its considerable tourism potential, creates jobs and attracts investment. The context of Brexit increases the urgency of this task. The Bill, following the efforts of others dating back over 15 years, is an important first step in opening up to everyone in Dublin an urgent, overdue and critically important conversation on Dublin’s future.

Is the Bill opposed?

Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.