Gormley rounds on FF TDs over criticism of mayor election
ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley last night called on Fianna Fail backbenchers to hold fire on criticising his plan for an elected mayor of Dublin.
The minister urged Fianna Fail TDs to examine the legislation establishing the new position before casting judgment.
His appeal came after the Irish Independent yesterday revealed the growing opposition from Fianna Fail TDs and councillors over the Green Party leader's proposals.
Details of his divisive plans to create a directly elected mayor will be published later this week. Many Fianna Fail backbenchers are rubbishing the plans as another bureaucratic layer and a waste of money.
Hitting back last night, Mr Gormley claimed it was "regrettable" that Fianna Fail politicians were opposing proposals without having read the details.
"The bill is on the 'A' list and will be published at the end of this week. It's regrettable that people speaking have not read the legislation," he said.
"They don't realise that this legislation will ensure we cut costs and have a mayor in a strong position to implement policy so this city of ours can compete with Paris, Rome and Barcelona. I would ask them to hold back and read the legislation before going and talking to the newspapers."
He insisted the mayoral election would take place next year -- saying there was "no question" about that. The legislation creating the position would be passed before Christmas, he said.
The minister had originally insisted on a deadline of 2010 but recently admitted this was now not possible as legislation would not be passed until the autumn. An election is unlikely to take place until spring 2011 at the earliest.
Backing up Mr Gormley's claims, Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said successful cities had elected mayors with real powers.
"All the evidence shows that this is the right way to go. That is why London has gone that direction and New York has gone that way, so why not Dublin?" Mr Ryan said.
Of the 11 Fianna Fail backbenchers surveyed by the Irish Independent, none said they were entirely happy with the position of the mayor as proposed.
Seven did not like the idea or said it needed substantially more work, while two were favourable but wanted more detail. The remaining two did not return calls.
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who was once touted as a potential candidate, dismissed it as a "non-job".
Former junior minister Noel Ahern called the plan a "bit of a waste of space" and questioned whether taxpayers could afford it at the moment.