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City needs to find its own way and allow people to decide where we go from there

DUBLIN as a city is on the rise.

Our population is expected to grow rapidly in the next two decades. Our economy is starting to pick up, especially in the technology sector, where new start-ups emerge every week.

As a venue for sports, music and culture we're already on the international stage.

But growth brings problems. The escalating housing crisis is evident in the homeless on the streets, the families struggling to make ends meet or those just striving to get on to the housing ladder.

We also face a crisis of what to do with our rubbish. Recycling initiatives and economic contraction have bought us some time, but with the Poolbeg incinerator about to be shelved, Dublin's politicians now have to face up to the fact that they lack a coherent or sustainable plan for the city's waste.

The current Government have slashed funding for public transport and abandoned vital long-term projects such as Metro and the rail interconnector between Heuston Station and Spencer Dock.

HOSTILE

Our city centre is still a hostile place for pedestrians, cyclists and the disabled and we could do a lot more to open access to our seafront, our mountains and our rivers in a really attractive way. Clearly then, our city needs to find its own way over the next years and decades.

What works for rural counties will not work for Dublin, which is why we need a devolved system of government, independent of the cabinet table, and focused solely on issues that matter to Dubliners.

That is why I am whole-heartedly supporting the creation of a directly-elected Mayor for Dublin.

A mayor will not be a panacea for all of Dublin's problems, but it is a step in the right direction to improving its livability – a place to raise families, with a metropolitan and international outlook, and a strong and dynamic economy.

If Dublin is to achieve its potential, we need a city leader who has the power to pull everyone together to get the city really working properly. Reports are that Fingal councillors will block a public vote on whether Dubliners will have that mayor. Those councillors will have to make up their minds on the issue today, and we can only hope that public pressure will convince them not to deny Dubliners their democratic choice.

If they vote yes, it will then be up to the people of Dublin to decide where we go from here.

EAMON RYAN IS A FORMER TD FOR THE GREEN PARTY AND CURRENT PARTY LEADER


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