Dublin TDs can run for mayor, says Gormley
ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley insisted yesterday that TDs can run for Dublin mayor, despite a mistake in draft plans which said Oireachtas members could not even be nominated.
But the opposition accused the Government of trying to pull a "political stroke", which would devalue the mayor's office before it is even established.
A stipulation in the heads of the bill establishing the position said TDs and senators would be excluded from being nominated for the new post. But this was put down to a mistake in the plans by Department of Environment sources yesterday.
The department says the stipulation will be removed from the final bill. The final bill will not ban members of the Oireachtas or European Parliament from standing in the first-ever direct election for a mayor in the capital.
The department says the heads of the bill were based on current local government law, which forbids a dual mandate.
"The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has stated that the published bill will not preclude members of the Oireachtas or of the European Parliament from standing for election as mayor," a department statement said.
"However, an Oireachtas member or an MEP would be required to step down from that position if elected to the position of Mayor for Dublin."
Before Mr Gormley clarified his position, he was accused of trying to pull a "political stroke" by Labour leader Eamon Gilmore.
"Of course members of the Oireachtas have no right to assume that they would be the best candidate or would have a better chance of being elected than any other citizen, but by blocking them from even running, Minister Gormley is excluding a pool of experienced political leaders from the job," Mr Gilmore said.
"All of the main political parties have members of the Dail and Seanad from the Dublin area, including some with former ministerial experience, who would be potentially strong candidates for this position.
"It appears to me that the government parties accept that, in the current political climate, they have no chance of winning the election and that they are determined to stop a strong political figure emerging from the opposition ranks to occupy this position.
"When Mr Gormley announced his proposals for a directly elected mayor back in April 2008, Green Party sources spoke of the position being the equivalent in terms of prestige and importance as that of a government minister.
"Minister Gormley now seems to have changed his mind and is ranking this position below that of a Dail backbencher."