President Calls for Debate on Unification of 4 Dublin Councils
Feb 03, 2017
The new President of Dublin Chamber of Commerce has called for a debate into the possible unification of the four Dublin authorities.
Addressing an audience of more than 500 guests at the Chamber's AGM Dinner in the Intercontinental Hotel, Brendan Foster, the Chamber's newly-elected President for 2017, questioned whether the division of the county into four separate local authorities remains the best structure for a prosperous Dublin.
Speaking at the Dinner, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, Mr Foster said: "We need to get serious about how we run our city. Is Dublin best-served by being divided into four local authorities? Let’s remember that the division of the county was introduced for historical, and perhaps political, reasons back in 1994. Now is a good time to re-think whether these reasons remain relevant today for our city and county. We have been talking for years about how joined up thinking is what Dublin badly needs. In fact, the division of the county works against such kind of kind of joined-up thinking."
Mr Foster went on to suggest that consideration should be given to the establishment of a Dublin Regional Authority.
He said: "The four local authorities would operate as service providers to the Authority, submitting their annual budgets for approval. Ideally, the Dublin Regional Authority would be headed by an executive officer who may be elected directly by the citizens of Dublin."
He added: "Businesses are the largest funders of local government in Dublin city, and they have been over the last 5 years. This year alone, businesses will contribute over €635 million in commercial rates for the benefit of the Dublin Region. Unfortunately, there is a very weak sense of Value for Money for this contribution. Almost three quarter, of businesses recently surveyed by the Chamber say that they do not know what their commercial rates are used for. Of those who do know, only a third of them think they get value for money. This must be addressed."
"All over the world, municipal governments with strong executive powers are transforming their cities to meet the challenges of the coming century. They are often led in this task by directly elected Mayors. In Dublin we have four different mayors, all indirectly selected, all with limited powers, and all changing every 12 months. This kind of fragmented governance is not what Dublin needs in the 21st century. Ireland’s capital deserves better," he added.
While Dublin Chamber is open to the idea of a Directly Elected Mayor office, Foster stressed that any such structure must have the right remit and the right powers.
Foster concluded: "The Chamber will not support a merely ceremonial role. We do not want an additional layer of bureaucracy, with no more than an electoral mandate to advise local authorities. Any legislation must give the Mayoral office clear control so that it can issue legally binding directions across the Dublin Region perhaps in a united Dublin Local Authority structure or a greater Dublin Authority Structure. What really matters is not a title. What matters is that the governance of Dublin is co-ordinated and effective. It must take a holistic view of the needs of the whole city region rather than focusing on narrow patches of electoral interest. Dublin will not realise its potential without a clear common vision for its future and a city government capable of making the vision a reality."
A full copy of Brendan Foster's speech can be found here.
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