Dubliners could have a chance to vote next June on whether or not they want to have a directly elected mayor.
The date of the Local and European Elections has been earmarked by Government as a likely date to hold a plebiscite on the issue.
A Citizens’ Assembly on local government in Dublin voted for the creation of a powerful new mayor with wide-ranging responsibilities in 15 policy areas including housing, homelessness, community healthcare, transport, the environment and emergency services.
Six other areas including policing, water, and education were recommended to be devolved after five to 10 years.
The role would incorporate the ceremonial activities of all four mayors of the four existing local authorities but also have executive powers.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar asked Cabinet to refer the assembly’s report to the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Local Government for consideration.
The committee now has until the end of the year to deliberate on the findings of the Citizens’ Assembly.
It is being asked to give specific advice on the wording of a plebiscite and if the committee recommends proceeding with such a vote the likely date would be to coincide with the Local and European elections - due to take place on a date between June 6th and 9th 2024.
Former Green Party Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu criticised this timescale saying: “The people of Dublin have been demanding stronger and more accountable local government for a long time”.
She said: “Instead of voting next year on if we want a directly elected mayor we should be electing who that person is.”
She raised concern that Dublin could see the same kind of delays that have occurred in Limerick, which voted to create the office of a directly elected mayor in 2019.
No date has yet been identified for a mayoral election in Limerick.
A Department of Housing spokesman said the drafting of legislation to pave the way for the vote is “very well advanced” with publication expected “in the coming weeks”.
However, he gave no indication when the mayoral election in Limerick could be held.
Meanwhile, Dublin Chamber warned that there must be “clear and detailed proposals” for the electorate in the capital to consider before any plebiscite.
Stephen Browne, the Chamber’s head of public affairs, welcomed plans for Dubliners to have a say in how the county is governed.
He said: “We think it is critical that Dubliners have detailed and crystal clear proposals on what powers will attach to the office of a directly elected mayor well in advance of any vote.”
Fianna Fáil TD Paul McAuliffe, another former Lord Mayor of Dublin, welcomed the indication that a plebiscite will be held next year.
He said: “Dubliners are increasingly becoming frustrated that when it comes to major decisions impacting on their lives in their city, they find that those for whom they voted for, do not have the power to make or rescind a decision.’
Mr McAuliffe added: “Having a directly elected mayor would enable the people of Dublin to have a greater say over how services and infrastructure are delivered and how the city develops.”
Mr Varadkar also asked Government to refer the report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity loss to the Oireachtas Environment Committee for a detailed response by the end of 2023.