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Bertie's mayor hopes dashed by cutbacks

ANY hopes Bertie Ahern may have held of becoming Dublin's directly elected Lord Mayor will have to wait until 2019.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan has shelved the plan -- first mooted by the Fianna Fail-Green coalition on cost grounds.

And the move could push some of the big names linked to the job out of the race on age grounds.

Mr Ahern will be 68 by the time the idea gets the go-ahead, as will MEP Gay Mitchell, who has also been mentioned as a possible mayor.

The elected mayor had been expected to be given powers straddling Dublin's four local authorities.



Hints

Former Environment Minister John Gormley announced the plan for an elected mayor in 2009 and Mr Ahern had given strong hints he would be interested if the mayor was given real powers.

"I think it would be a fascinating job for an experienced politician who would understand local government and understand local politics," he told guests at one book launch shortly after the announcement.

"And not mentioning myself, but I think it would be an excellent job."

Mr Ahern also said he would be against "celebrity" candidates and a directly elected mayor should be someone who has a proven record in politics.

It had been expected that the newly elected mayor would have a salary equivalent to that of a Government Minister, which was cut to €169,000 by the Government in March, 2011.

An internal report on local government reform has concluded that "a directly elected mayor for Dublin cannot simply be bolted as an additional layer of governance on top of the existing local government in Dublin".

For such an office to be meaningful, it would require a change in the current structures and the office would need to be given more far-reaching powers, functions and budget, the study concluded.

mlavery@herald.ie


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