Will it work?

Ex­pert eval­u­a­tion

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE -

Each of the pro­pos­als in this “Cap­i­tal Ideas” se­ries has been put to a group of three ex­perts for an ini­tial “back of an en­ve­lope” eval­u­a­tion.

They are: Frances Ruane (top right), for­mer di­rec­tor of the Eco­nomic and So­cial Re­search In­sti­tute; Caro­line Spil­lane (mid­dle right), di­rec­tor gen­eral of En­gi­neers Ire­land; and Cliff Tay­lor (bot­tom right), Ir­ish Times eco­nom­ics colum­nist. Caro­line Spil­lane

I have reser­va­tions about this plan, par­tic­u­larly due to the size of Dublin rel­a­tive to the coun­try as a whole. One per­son would have re­spon­si­bil­ity for 40 per cent of our pop­u­la­tion. The pow­ers of this of­fice would need to be care­fully de­fined. The pro­posed mayor would be in a po­si­tion of power for only five years, which could lead to short-term think­ing.

An Ir­ish Times ar­ti­cle from 2010 es­ti­mated the an­nual cost of the of­fice will be in the re­gion of ¤ 8 mil­lion based on a min­i­mum staffing level of 35 to 40 peo­ple.

Cliff Tay­lor

This pro­posal has sur­faced in var­i­ous forms over the years and fits into a com­mon theme that re­struc­tur­ing in­sti­tu­tions or posts can fix prob­lems. This could be a good idea, but the job spec, pow­ers and bud­get are key. The ben­e­fit de­pends on how it is struc­tured – and who is elected, of course.

It is a use­ful pro­posal but to work it re­quires a new vi­sion for lo­cal govern­ment, some­thing talked about for years and years but never de­liv­ered.

Frances Ruane

Cities with elected may­ors seem to work well. How­ever, in Ire­land, this would have to be set up as part of a re­bal­anc­ing of cen­tral and lo­cal govern­ment, if it is to work. If the city it­self does not have de­ci­sion mak­ing power, then adding a mayor will not solve the prob­lem.

Mean­while Dublin City Coun­cil should work on its gov­er­nance and adopt an in­te­grated prob­lem-solv­ing plan­ning ap­proach. This must in­volve all four au­thor­i­ties work­ing to­gether. That would in­volve no se­ri­ous re­source costs.

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