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 The City Hall, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
The City Hall, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Cork must not be treated as guinea pig for Dublin’s benefit

BEFORE Dublin gets anywhere near a plebiscite to introduce a directly-elected mayor, the city will have gone through a lengthy public consultation process. Meanwhile, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and eventually Galway will be asked the question straight out.

It’s fair to say that a directly-mayor will be more complicated in Dublin than anywhere else. With four local authorities, a population of more than one million people, and the capital’s strategic importance to the rest of Ireland, a lot of consideration will need to be given to what kind of powers might be given to one person.

The government has also said that it wants to see how the post works out in other cities so Dublin can learn from the experience.

Democratic experiments are important for trying new, bold ideas to improve systems, but Cork can’t be treated as a guinea pig just for Dublin’s benefit.

Should the directly-elected mayor system be a disaster, Dublin will learn from it but all the other cities will have to live with the consequences. In principle, there is a lot to be said for a directly-elected mayor.

Even if there are no additional powers given to the City Council, it brings the powers that are there closer to the people.

It would make City Hall more accountable to the public, and allow the public a greater influence in long term strategy.

But as of now, we know nothing about what we are being asked to sign up to.

If the government delay in releasing details for much longer, this experiment could be over before it produces any results.