The Dublin Citizens Assembly held their final meeting on the 1st October where they voted on recommendations for a Directly Elected Mayor for Dublin and local government structures for Dublin. There was a clear message from the Assembly that a significant number of powers should be devolved from central government to a new Directly Elected Mayor and to Local Government.
People Before Profit Councillor Madeleine Johansson was one of 12 councillors selected to take part in the Assembly. She has expressed her support for the principle of giving more decision-making powers to local government so that decisions that matter to our local communities are made as close to the people as possible.
Cllr Johansson recognised that Ireland ranks second worst in Europe for local decision-making and that this needs to change urgently. She also suggested that the devolution of powers does not necessarily equate to the need for a Directly Elected Mayor, however that she would welcome such a position if it was given the authority, budget and power that currently lies with unelected managers, outside bodies or central government.
Cllr Johansson welcomed the recommendation of the Assembly to hold a plebiscite of the people of Dublin on whether or not there should be a Directly Elected Mayor. She added that there should be transparent and clear information to the people about the functions and powers of the Mayor, as well as re-numeration and budgetary proposals.
People Before Profit Councillor Madeleine Johansson commented “I was honoured to be asked to take part in the Assembly and get to see first hand the deliberative democracy process in action. I am very impressed by the residents who gave up so much of their time to take part. My only concern would be that certain sections of society were largely absent from the Assembly, in particular blue collar working class people and people from disadvantaged communities.
“It’s been clear to me throughout this process that many people in Dublin are extremely frustrated with the government and their lack of vision and action, particularly around housing and transport. You can see this in the fact that 91% of the Assembly voted for Housing to be devolved to local government.
“Many residents were surprised about the lack of powers for local councillors and the frustration councillors have both with central government and council management. I was impressed with the genuine interest by Assembly members in trying to understand both the current structures but also to look for solutions to make it better.
“I hope that the recommendations from the Assembly will be taken seriously by the government and that significant steps will be taken to devolve powers to local government. What was very clear to me was that people have no interest in having a Directly Elected Mayor if it’s just another ceremonial role without real powers and responsibilities. It will not be acceptable to the Assembly if the government fails to take the issue of devolution seriously.”