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Mayor post may go to a referendum

DUBLINERS should be asked their opinion on having a directly-elected mayor for the city, according to councillors in one local authority.

Fingal councillors have called for a referendum to see if Dubliners want a directly- elected mayor for the city, amid claims the plan is a "vanity project" for the Environment Minister, John Gormley.

Leglislation is currently being finalised to establish the position of a directly-elected official, but it will be Autumn at the earliest before any poll is likely to be held.

Cllr Anne Devitt (FG) claimed proposals for the mayor, as well as a new body, the Dublin Regional Authority, is simply "another layer of bureaucracy".

She claimed the proposal is a "vanity project" on behalf of Minister Gormley.

Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Ciaran Byrne (Lab), called on the Government to hold a local vote to see if Dubliners support the establishment of the post. His motion at this month's Fingal council meeting received unanimous support from councillors.

Describing the power of the new post, Mr Gormley has said city and county managers would be subservient to the mayor.

Powers such as the control of waste management would be returned to the mayor, who will also oversee policy for the Dublin region in land-use planning, housing, waste management and water services.

And the budgets of the four Dublin authorities would have to comply with the policy set down by the mayor.

Cllr May McKeon (Ind) said the proposal to elect a mayor for Dublin undermines local democracy.

"This decision to elect a mayor of Dublin has been made without any consideration for the local demands of people at local level", said Cllr McKeon.

Minister Gormley also plans to do away with the development boards, and replace them with a regional development board.

Fingal County Manager, David O'Connor, said it would be "extremely regretful" if anything happened to the Fingal Development Board, which has planned a vital role in the development of Fingal in the last decade.