herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Would I consider running to be the Mayor of Dublin? Of course, who wouldn't? - Ryan

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan Picture: Tom Burke
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan Picture: Tom Burke

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said he'd consider running to be a directly-elected mayor for Dublin.

His party is putting forward a bill in the Dail that will seek to have such an office in place by the time of the 2019 local elections. Mr Ryan told the Herald he'd be interested in being a candidate. "Yeah, of course. Who wouldn't?" he said.

"I mean this would be a serious top job. I'm not saying I'd do it. I've got another job at the moment running the Green Party, but it's open to everyone."

While Fine Gael and Fianna Fail politicians have both spoken in recent weeks of reviving the stalled plans for a directly-elected mayor, the Greens are the first to draw up a bill to make it happen in this Dail.

Power

"It works in London, it works in Paris, it works in New York. There's no reason it shouldn't work in Dublin," Mr Ryan said, adding that he'd like to see it happen in Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Galway as well.

"We need proper planning. To do that we need a political mandate. We need to give a man or woman in each of those cities the actual power to make things happen - to pull our transport system together, to get our housing right, to get our planning right, to create green spaces, to create a really strong culture in each of our cities," Mr Ryan said.

Focussing on the capital, he said: "Dublin is in real trouble. The M50 is about to gridlock. We haven't got our housing built and in the right place.

"We need someone centrally coordinating the planning, particularly of transport and housing, to make this city work. This city is the engine of our country's development. We've got to get it right."

Under the Green's plan a 15-member regional authority would be established, including representatives from each of the existing four local authorities.

A directly-elected mayor - with executive powers greater than those of the current city and county managers - would have a five-year term. They would replace the current office of Lord Mayor.

Mr Ryan said the pay would be akin to that of a high-ranking government official or minister.

"But you wouldn't be doing it for the salary. You'd be doing it actually for the honour of it," he added.

He said that any TDs interested in the role would have to give up their Dail seat if they were elected.

Successful

Mr Ryan didn't name any high-profile Dubliners he believes would be suitable for the job.

"Look at who's done it in other places," he said. "It's typically political figures - Jacques Chirac in Paris was a hugely successful mayor. In London, they've had huge success. I mean I don't agree with Boris Johnson or Ken Livingston or their views, but actually it's worked out there and benefited their city.

"You've had business people like Mike Bloomberg step in in New York and did an amazing job - he changed the nature of the city. He turned New York green. So I think leave that up to the people and see who runs. I think you would get a very high quality person."

Mr Ryan said he is seeking cross-party support for the bill, pointing out that local government minister Simon Coveney said he was considering resurrecting the plans earlier this week.

"My view is that I am supportive of the concept of directly elected mayors. People will have more ownership of the position. Certainly in our bigger cities, it makes sense to have a voice for the city as directly elected mayor," Mr Coveney said.

Fianna Fail's Dublin spokesman John Lahart is also working on legislation for a directly-elected mayor.

He previously told the Herald he's in favour of a public debate in the lead up to a vote so the capital's citizens can have their say.

Mr Ryan said there's ample time to ensure that, by 2019, the people will be able to have a direct say on who is the mayor. "There's nothing to stop Dubliners and the other cities around the country electing their own mayors at the next local elections and that's what we want to see happen now."

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