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Dublin mayor referendum now 'unlikely'

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Alan Kelly

Alan Kelly

Alan Kelly

A REFERENDUM on a directly-elected major for Dublin is unlikely to happen in the lifetime of this Government, it has emerged.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly has ruled out the prospect of holding a referendum on a directly-elected major for the capital in the short term.

He believes there are "huge challenges" in introducing such a position. And he revealed that the issue was not on his list of priorities.

"Ideologically, I have no big issue, but the practicality of how it's going to happen, it's not going to be a short-term thing," he said.

Powers

"There's no point having a directly-elected mayor unless they have real powers. That's something I think would be a big challenge, and I don't see it happening.

"For instance, what powers are you going to cede from this department? How is that going to work? Who's going to manage the infrastructure and development of the Luas? Where does it begin and end?" the minister said.

However Christy Burke, the lord mayor of Dublin, said: "We've procrastinated for too long and we need action. It might not be a priority for Alan Kelly, but it is for me and for the people of Dublin."

Proposals to hold a county-wide vote, or 'plebiscite', on the issue in tandem with the local and European elections were scuppered in March, after Fingal councillors vetoed the proposal.

The three other city and county authorities had backed the plan to hold a vote.

However, just last month it looked as though the plans for a directly-elected major had been resuscitated following talks between Alan Kelly's 
predecessor, Phil Hogan, and the mayors of the four Dublin local authorities.

It was believed that it would take two years before the proposals for the new office were put to a public vote.

Mr Hogan had stated in July that: "The citizens of Dublin are central to all of this and the local authorities must examine how they might engage them in the debate."

However, according to a report in The Sunday Times, Mr Kelly has indicated that it is unlikely to happen in the lifetime of this Government.

Considered

He said that a referendum in two years, is "not something I've even considered, to be honest".

Meanwhile, Mr Kelly said that in the run-up to the next election, it should be possible for Labour to "have a relationship" with Fine Gael.

"It would be very strange if you didn't in relation to managing votes and supporting each other," he said.

The minister believed 
that Labour should make a voting pact with Fine Gael in advance of the election due in 2016.

fdillon@herald.ie


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