It is totally unacceptable that the people of the four local authorities areas in Dublin are being bounced into a Plebiscite in just seven weeks time on the issue of a directly elected Mayor for the whole of Dublin. The proposal in the Lord Mayor’s Report has very serious and far- reaching effects about which there has been no public debate up to now. There would be a further squeezing out of space for a debate due to the campaign for the Local and European elections.
The motion before the Councils today is not just on whether to hold a Plebiscite on May 23rd. The motion endorses the Lord Mayor’s Report which provides for a huge centralisation and concentration of power in the hands of one individual with an unelected, so called cabinet appointed by that individual. The already limited democratic powers of the current local authorities would be further reduced to a level that would be meaningless. This would unquestionably mean an intensification of the already rampant erosion of local services for the people of Dublin. On top of this the Minister for the Environment has the right to further erode local democracy in determining what powers a Mayor would be given. By contrast the Socialist Party stands for a radical extension of democratic powers for local government.
Attempting to rush through such drastic changes to local government in Dublin in seven weeks time is hamfisted and highhanded. The Councillors who are making this decision are at the very end of their mandate and up for election on May 23. At the very least no decision should be made until new Councils are in place after the Local Elections. This would allow candidates in the election to lay out their views and give an opportunity for the electorate to consider them.
The Lord Mayor’s proposal cements the property tax and water tax into the funding structure for the proposed Mayoralty. It in no way addresses the massive problems facing many people in Dublin including the crisis of unemployment, the crisis in housing and mortgage distress and the austerity agenda generally of the establishment political parties.
A simple amendment to the Local Government Reform Act 2014 can provide for a stand alone Plebiscite with adequate time for debate:
Socialist Party Councillors will not endorse the proposal before the Councils today in its current form. They will call for the holding of a plebiscite on this issue but only after a thorough democratic debate. For this the plebiscite would have to be on stand -alone basis and not lumped in with elections or substantial constitutional issues. A simple amendment to the Local Government Reform Act 2014 can provide for this.