Saturday 23 February 2019

New city mayor 'could have say' in counties next door to Dublin

Minister for Local Government, John Paul Phelan
Minister for Local Government, John Paul Phelan

A new directly-elected mayor of Dublin may get planning powers in the adjoining areas of Wicklow, Meath and Kildare.

"If you are developing a city across county boundaries, there must be some formalised structures for the kind of planning, transport and land use strategies," Local Government Minister John Paul Phelan said.

The minister is overseeing local government plans that include directly-elected mayors for Dublin and Cork.

Voters in both will be asked their views in a referendum, likely to be run alongside local elections in May next year.


A key part of the Government's National Planning Framework is to develop Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford as points of economic and population growth.

Mr Phelan has been embroiled in an emotional row about extending the Waterford city boundary into Co Kilkenny and his own Dail constituency.

He said the government strategy is, in part, an effort to manage and avoid such rows.

The Carlow-Kilkenny deputy stressed that the cross-boundary powers would not impact on the current powers of local councils.

"However, there must be some formalised structure for the kind of planning and land use and strategies for things like transport," he said.

Mr Phelan insisted that "neither the current Dail nor any Dail we could foresee" will alter existing county boundaries.

"There would be nothing worse than having a directly-elected mayor and not giving them tangible powers to help shape the greater metropolitan area in key aspects of forward planning," he said.

The Government has been accused of dragging its feet over directly-elected mayors.

Until late last year, the impression given was that the Dublin and Cork elections could be held next summer. Now that is the date cited for the referendums.

Previous efforts to have directly-elected mayors failed amid fears that the posts would benefit minority parties or "parachute celebrity candidates".

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