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'We need a Mayor to stand up for Dublin'

Fine Gael has been heavily criticised for arguing that the first election for a Lord Mayor of Dublin should not take place this year.

Former Lord Mayor Dermot Lacey has attacked Fine Gael for pouring cold water on the plan, saying: "Dublin does need to run Dublin."

Labour councillor Lacey is the first politician to declare an interest in running for the position and was responding to FG's Phil Hogan, who said the Government's plans "will fail miserably". Mr Hogan said recently that without real responsibilities, a real agenda or a real budget, the idea of an elected Mayor for Dublin was "little more than half-baked".

But Cllr Lacey told the Herald that delaying the process would be "against the interests of the people of Dublin".

Cllr Lacey, who occupied the Mansion House in 2002/03, said: "Dublin needs a political voice. It needs someone who understands how things work, or more accurately do not work, and who will stand up for Dublin. Someone who can be the political advocate for the country armed with the mandate of direct election."

He added: "Many believe that we need more than the simple change to a directly elected Mayor and they are right.

"However, the promised election is in my view an important step forward and we should grasp it and not carp about it."

Traffic

Part of his argument is that "interference in Dublin by disinterested bureaucracies and quangos has been enormously damaging and quite simply Dublin deserves better".

"The present situation in which more than 40 bodies have responsibility for traffic is perhaps the most obvious example of this."

Cllr Lacey has criticised parts of Minister John Gormley's mayoral plans, describing the proposed salary of more than €200,000 as "disgracefully and unnecessarily high".

However, Fine Gael's local government spokesperson has argued that the position of Mayor would actually be "another layer of bureaucracy that was little more than a vanity project" for the Green Party.

Mr Gormley has said that he intends to hold an election at some stage this year. However, he has yet to publish the White Paper on the future of local government.

Cllr Lacey told the Herald: "As Bertie Ahern has declared his interest, let me declare mine.

"However, while I am interested in contesting for this real job, I am far more interested in having a debate. It is long past time to stand up for better local government and long past time to stand up for Dublin.

"A campaign for a directly elected Mayor will give us a chance to do just that."

kdoyle@herald.ie


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