Dublin needs a new government

26th August 2000

THERE exists in the world an organisation called the Dublin Regional Authority. Did you know that? Not a lot of people know that.

The purpose of this body is to try to patch together the various agencies that are responsible for running this city and county.

It’s quite a tangled web. For starters the Government has a major influence as it controls most of the funds and all of the legislation.

Then there’s the four local authorities. Within the local authorities there’s the full-time executive led by the Manager and there’s the temps elected by ourselves, who are supposed to keep an eye on things. Sort of an official wing and a provisional wing, so to speak.

Added to these are the many, many semi-state and private organisations responsible for various parts of our lives.

And when it comes down to it the Dublin Regional Authority is just another part, plugging away on its own.

Oh, I suppose it works (we’re still here aren’t we?) but let’s face it – it’s a mess.

Our esteemed Environment Minister Noel Dempsey thinks he has the answer. He wants us to elect Mayors who will have some teeth.

While this idea has some merit, it won’t change much in relation to Dublin.

We will have four mayors so that will take the focus and accountability out of the equation. It is a much better idea when applied to Waterford, Cork, Galway and Limerick where they have one authority for the whole city.

In any case the idea of a single person given sweeping powers doesn’t appeal to me. It’s a recipe for populism and the politics of wind and piss. Just remember some of our recent ‘heros’ who, it transpired, had more interest in themselves than in the country.

So sorry Noel, but at least you’re trying.

What Dublin needs it genuine autonomy. At the moment the current arrangements miss the spot.

The four local authorities fail to give overall direction to the city on the one hand. And they are too large to be genuinely local on the other.

The first point is obvious. The second point needs developing.

Dublin Corporation caters for over half a million people. The other three County Councils cover roughly 200,000 people each.

No one in Dublin identifies with these areas. How many people have you heard proclaim “I’m a Dún Laoghaire/Rathdowner” or “I’m a Fingallian” or even “I’m a South Dublin Countyer” (yikes).

Meanwhile areas which do have a strong local identity like Finglas, Dundrum, Rathmines, etc have no local government at all.

So my suggestion for how the city should be governed is as follows:

There should be a single local assembly for Dublin city and county. This assembly would be made up of the 40 Dublin TDs.

As much power as possible would be handed over from the Dáil and the County Managers to this Assembly over matters affecting the whole city, such as transport, planning, housing and environment.

The assembly would be led by an executive of eight including the mayor. The executive would be appointed in proportion to the seats won in the election, similar to the Northern arrangements. This would eliminate the pointless squabbling and point-scoring.

A new tier of local councils would be formed to cover the local areas of Dublin, catering to communities of 5,000 to 20,000 people, where strong local identities exist.

These councils would be serviced by the existing municipal organisations for local matters such as street cleaning and area management. The councils would be given a budget which they could spend at their discretion.

The functions of the existing organisations could be combined where appropriate, like the library service, for example.

So there’s my plan. It might not be perfect but it’s better than the present mess.


As well as that…

Criminal hysteria

It transpires that the German girl attacked in Dún Laoghaire was not slashed in the face contrary to widespread reports.

And it appears that the actor Robbie Doolin was not beaten to death, again contrary to early impressions.

Neither of these events are trivial. But who gains from blowing the impact of crime out of all proportion?

We do. The media, I mean. We sell drama and when it doesn’t happen we add it in.

I suppose it’s inevitable. People need to learn to read between the lines.

Give Miss Dublin a miss

As this paper backs both the Miss Dublin competition and free speech I would like to say what a load of reactionary, sexist, backward, neantherthal rubbish this competition actually is.

Why not Ms Dublin? Is the whole point that these women have to be available to men?

And have we not heard of co-habitation lads?

And have we not passed the point where females are still to judged on their appearance and where vulnerable young women drive their lives up cul-de-sacs in pursuit of this kind of approval? Ah, give it up.