“No doubt, the weekend pronouncements from Enda Kenny and Noel Dempsey on political reform will be welcomed by the usual chattering classes that dominate the Irish media. However, the simple fact is, that there is little point in aiming to reform our National Political structures if we do not first reform Local Government. Lack of reform of the local will mean that the National will always play second fiddle to the local “, according to Labour Councillor and former Lord Mayor of Dublin, Dermot Lacey.
“As we approach the publication of the proposed White Paper on Local Government there is an emerging recognition that our current system requires renewal and reform.
While the detail of any reform is extensive, the essentials are not. If it is to be in any way meaningful reform must include:
• An Independent source of funding for Local Authorities and not subject to the whims of the Department of the Environment.
• Reform of the City and County Managers Act creating a new post of Chief Executive Officer – accountable to the relevant Local Authority and recruited by the Public Appointments Commission.
• A directly elected Mayor of Dublin with a five year term and accountable to an enhanced Dublin Regional Authority. In that context I believe that it is wrong to advance the case of a directly elected Lord Mayor solely for the City. It is the Dublin region that needs such political leadership.
• Extending the role of the Dublin Regional Authority to include Transport and Planning and subsuming bodies such as the Dublin Transport Authority and the Affordable Housing Partnership.
• Real controls and limitations on electoral spending at local elections and an ethical framework that is robust and just.
Local Government is best placed to deliver real reform if let. It is time to stand up for better Local Government and long past time to “Stand up for Dublin.”