Thursday 22 March 2018

Directly-elected mayor won't live in €1m-a-year residence

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE COST of running the Mansion House in Dublin is almost €1m per year -- and the new, directly-elected mayor of the city won't even get to live there.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin City will continue to live in the Mansion House for their year in office, even after the new Mayor of Dublin takes up office.

The city and county will now have five different mayors, including the directly elected Mayor of Dublin, at an increasing cost to the taxpayer.

And the new mayor will have a salary of more than €200,000, comparable to that of a cabinet minister.

Dublin City Council has forked out €4.8m over the past five years for the upkeep of the Mansion House on Dawson Street, which functions as the official residence of the Lord Mayor.

New figures obtained by the Irish Independent reveal that the annual cost averages €962,000 -- and that does not include the Lord Mayor's wages, allowances or expenses.

On top of a normal councillor's wages of around €17,000 per year, the Lord Mayor is given an additional allowance of up to €70,000.

Yet the practice of using the Mansion House as the Lord Mayor's residence is set to continue with the introduction of a directly elected mayor in June.

All Dublin mayors -- Dublin City, Fingal, South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown -- will remain in place after the elected mayor, who will have responsibility for the city and county, takes up office.

Included in the Mansion House costs are allowances for awards, entertainment and receptions, as well as day-to-day running costs -- such as electricity and heating -- and the money needed to hire two full-time drivers.

Among the other staff working at the Mansion House are house stewards, office staff and an official photographer.

But the cost of maintaining all the mayors in Dublin will be even higher when the allowances of the other mayors are factored in.


As well as the normal councillor's payment, the Fingal Mayor gets a wage of €32,000. South Dublin gives an allowance of €45,000 and Dun Laoghaire allocates €28,000.

Other payments, such as travel and car allowances, are also granted and can be as much as €11,000.

Most of the functions of the various mayors are ceremonial. Apart from chairing the council meetings, they have little power.

Although it is not yet clear what exactly the directly elected mayor will do, the Department of Environment says that legislation will be introduced before the Oireachtas in the coming weeks and will be ready in time for a June election.

The heads of the bill have been circulated within Government, even though the legislation was not included in the Government's priority list for the current Dail session.

It was not included in the programme because the heads of the bill have first to be formally approved by Cabinet.

Environment Minister John Gormley says the new mayor will have executive powers and he will sit on the board of the National Transport Authority, which used to be called the Dublin Transport Authority.

All four local authorities will be required to ensure they comply with plans, strategies and policies that fall within the mayor's remit.

Opposition parties have criticised Mr Gormley's plans for the lack of detailed information on the roles, responsibilities and powers for the mayor.

They have also said that the timeframe for the introduction of legislation and then a June election leaves little time for the selection of candidates.

Irish Independent

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