Lords Of The Mayor


From top: Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál MacDonncha (left)  is presented with the first car registered in the capital in 2018 at The Mansion House last month; Dan Boyle

For many it won’t rate as an issue of any significance. Most may even see it as an exercise in frippery. The idea of an additional paid political position, will be instinctively reacted against, possibly by a majority of voters.

But it shouldn’t be. The idea of directly elected mayors has the potential of being the first significant positive change in local government since the inception of the State.

If that sounds overblown, it should be remembered that we have never really had local government in Ireland. When compared to the forms of local government that exist in most democratic countries, what we have in Ireland is little more than local administration.

Too few powers are developed from central government. The few powers that exists locally are horribly distributed between those who are elected (but have few if any decision making powers) and those who are appointed (who make most of the decisions but have little or no accountability for those decisions).

Directly elected mayors won’t of themselves solve the problems of Irish local government but it would be an important first step in the right direction.

Irish local government since 1922 has been an unholy mess. All changes that have occurred to the system have been to lessen and weaken its effectiveness. Part of this has been because the attachment to the county system, largely through GAA loyalties, has made change near impossible.

Even the affection ‘Lord Mayor’ is redolent of auld decency. Why a republic feels the need to hold onto such titles has always been beyond me. In Cork the questioning of the title provokes charges that the memory of MacSwiney and McCurtain is being tarnished.

The failure to equalise votes in local authorities across the country, has meant the strength of local councillors in the West of Ireland has always held greater sway than their Dublin counterparts.

It may seem counter intuitive but in voting for directly elected mayors, voters in Cork and Dublin will have a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives.

Of course none of this will mean anything if national government does not devolve more of the nationally made decisions, those that should be more properly made at local level. Most of the decisions made nationally in areas such as health, education, policing or transport, can be more easily or more effectively made locally.

The answer to better local government in Ireland is not only more local decision making with greater accountability, it is also more elected councillors on more elected councils.

One the greatest myths perpetuated, largely by civil servants at the Department of Local Government, is that Ireland has been over represented at this level of government.

Ireland not only has the weakest system of government in the democratic World, it also pro rata has weakest representation in terms of numbers.

We should re-introduce town councils as district councils. We should reverse the ill thought and ill managed amalgamations of Limerick and Waterford councils.

Most importantly of all we should devolve all necessary powers to the lowest effective level.

It isn’t what is wanted by national politicians, civil servants or officials in local authorities. It is, though, what we need as a country.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Top pic: Rollingnews


Dan Boyle’s ‘Making Up The Numbers – Smaller Parties and Independents in Irish Politics‘ published by the History Press is available at all good bookstores now.

89 thoughts on “Lords Of The Mayor

  1. Ina

    Just finished your book Dan. Not bad. You really don’t like Nessa Childers, do you. And Coveney didn’t fall off a cliff accidentally.

    1. Dan Boyle

      Thanks I think. The comment on Nessa was based on her not being honest with me. People are like that.

      1. qwerty123

        I read your book too Dan, the sentence “Needless to say, I had the last laugh….” appeared 42 times!! Impressive.

      2. Ina

        Fair enough. She did say she wanted to spend more time with her family, and then quickly changed her mind. Unless spending too much time with her family was a nightmare and then she did an about turn!

  2. bisted

    …if I was cynical…which I’m not, of course…but that piece reads like an appeal for council nominations for a potential presidential run…

  3. Dan Boyle

    Jaysus lads yere not great at reading between the lines. It’s Mayor of Cork I want to be…

    1. anyone

      tell us more about the diesel car ban there in German cities a chara

      tremendous legacy you’ve left us, you are the epitome of why we need fewer “politicians” and a new cadre of competent public administration managers.

      1. Dan Boyle

        Ban them away. I’d welcome it. It has nothing to do with any legacy of mine. Try guilting someone else. Weird way to get your kicks I’d have thought.

        1. anyone

          I get my kicks on route 66 thanks to you and your ilk Dan

          Thanks for making me drive an emission guzzling high powered diesel and destroy the planet

          a tremendous legacy if I may say

          1. Nigel

            ‘Dan Boyle Made Me Drive A Diesel.’ Jaysus this is stupid. So eager to blame Dan for something or everything or anything you infantlise yourself.

          2. anyone

            No one is interested in your incessant trolling Nigel – just fupp off with yourself
            Good girl

          3. Nigel

            I think you’re fascinated by my endless trolling. You just can’t get over it. Hypnotised by it the same way Dan Boyle hypnotised you into buying a diesel car you didn’t want.

          4. anyone

            If i exhibit any sign of hypnosis Nigel it’s because I’ve obviously inhaled too many diesel exhaust fumes, now back off biatttch

          1. Nigel

            Wasn’t the whole diesel emissions thing the result of widespread and wholesale fraud by European car manufacturers?

          2. anyone

            Did those manufacturers introduce the legislation and tax cuts on diesel cars here?

            Jaysus they are VERY clever

          3. Nigel

            Dan Boyle made you buy a diesel car but the process whereby faked emissions lead to favourable legislation for diesel cars must forever remain a mystery you utter baby child.

          4. Taunton

            wtf are you on you utter tool.
            Many factors must be accounted for when buying a car, running cost being one. Dan’s party encouraged people to buy diesel.

          5. Ami B and BS

            Nigel you are going well here – really convincing us with your own descent into childish name calling

          6. anyone

            No one with any self-respect reads your absurd drivel and badger baiting on here Nigel. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that what you’re saying has any relevance.

          7. jusayinlike

            hahaha brilliant, Ami calling someone out for name calling and than saying they’re childish for it, stones and glass house’s love..

            anyone is Pat Kenny’s wife calling someone else a troll, lamentable.. how many times have you been banned from this site?

          8. Cu Cullan

            I’m beginning to think that Nigel is really an alter ego of Dan the man.. perhaps they should get on their bikes.. as they say in Cork..

      2. david

        Are you dyslexic with an aversion to all things cork
        Any way I will leave you for a few decades to wonder what I meant
        The last thing this country needs is pen pushers

    2. phil

      I for one would be highly supportive of Dan becoming Mayor of Cork , having lived there for a number of years plenty of them deserve it …..

  4. ollie

    Motor tax for diesel cars cut in 2008. Who was in government? FF and Green Party. Where was Dan Boyle? In the Seanad. Did he speak in the chamber about this legislation? No.
    “Dan Boyle: The transfer of taxation arrangements in terms of annual motor tax from an engine capacity to an emissions basis was a Green Party initiative which at the time was greeted with no small degree of cynicism by many in the political system. It has turned out to be an enormous success”
    ” It has nothing to do with any legacy of mine. Try guilting someone else. ”

    You truly are a politician Dan.

    1. italia'90

      Hah… nailed it Ollie.

      It’s not like there were serious concerns about increasing the national diesel fleet.
      Anyone or any business that was familiar with diesel were seriously perplexed, but didn’t object to the financial inducement. A bit like some of our politicians I would guess.
      CO2 is not the only by-product of motoring.

      1. Dan Boyle

        Why should I bother commenting on this ridiculous obsession? Talk to each other diesel heads.

        1. anyone

          What’s ridiculous about it?

          Under the guise of a progressive environmental legislative action, you are actually defending a mass transfer of wealth to privileged few industry insiders funded by taxpayers, and drivers.

          We’ve not forgotten the disgraceful subvention given to the industry in the form of a ‘scrappage scheme’, you people are parasites and now you’re adding insult to injury by trolling us

        2. Cu Cullan

          Because you* made it this way.. motorway through Tara, incinerator in Dublin, Bellnaboy, diesel cars.. all your work.. and partnership with FF, the people who destroyed what little local democracy we had left.. *with the green party..

          1. Dan Boyle

            Because you have an idiot card of exaggerated out of context talking points that you repeat again, again and again. Practice your trolling somewhere else.

          2. Cu Cullan

            Dan, they are established facts.. you got your chance with the Greens and you blew it.. you want to make a difference, then man up and accept how badly you messed up.. there might be hope for you.. otherwise you’re just a masochist looking for a beating every week on here..

          3. Nigel

            Do they vote for Fianna Fail? Or Fine Gael? Fantastic bunch of voters, proved right over and over again.

    1. Pat Harding

      I seriously don’t….

      The whiff of gangsterism has never gone away from Sinn Fein, only you’re probably too young to know what lurks behind their facade. There’s a reason why people over a certain age don’t vote for them.

  5. david

    They as in Dublin city council have decided to purge cars from the city centre but spend our taxes buying a flash motor for the mayor
    Its time the car was taken away and he is presented with a bike
    He can lead by example and get on his bike
    Or even use the luaus and dart or walk to a bus stop as they expect all to use

    1. The Bottler

      Volvo provide car free of charge but I doubt if benefit in kind is paid to the Revenue

      1. david

        Even if its free it pollutes and if the council is barring cars from the city centre it must lead by example
        Maybe Mr Keegan the grim reaper of dunloghaire and off the cuff Kieran should of objected

      2. david

        Not only that but the car is a diesel, google it
        Now where dose he stand with the environmental issue of latest reason to raise diesel tax because we are told of cancer causing emissions
        Its all bullpoo a free flash motor quoting environmental crap
        The car must be returned and give him a bike

  6. some old queen

    In principle this is a good idea but just look at the state of some of the county councils. In some there are so many connected that they could qualify as family businesses. I know of two in particular that never even bother to advertise their jobs because they just get filled on a ‘who you know’ basis. Jobs for the boys (and girls) does not inspire confidence in any organisation.

      1. some old queen

        No I’d really rather not because they are only the two I know about and that would present quite a distorted picture. I am pretty sure there is a lot more than that. It is a well known fact that councils are a closed shop when it comes to employment. Indeed that criticism could be leveled at most of the state sector, RTÉ being a case in point.

  7. scottser

    I couldn’t agree more with you dan, local government should have way more teeth, even down to setting corporation tax rates. We just have the wrong type of democracy – it should be participative not representative.

      1. Dan Boyle

        Indeed I am. Have never cast an illegal vote in my life. Have tried to do things rather than mither about them. You should try it sometime Bisted.

    1. Dan Boyle

      Hate me do you child? You have precious little reason to. And who this ‘we’ you refer to? Real people like me fine.

      1. Ami B and BS

        It was pretty clear to me that anyone referred to things you did rather than you personally dan

        1. Dan Boyle

          Really? Hating me isn’t in any way personal? Interesting. Quite a moral code you people operate. Quite Trumpian.

          1. Ami B and BS

            It’s just how I read it. You are very quick to play the victim card but in fairness i guess politics does bring out the worst in some people

          2. jusayinlike

            You often read things wrong Ami, and almost always personally insult people, your high horse self righteous moral stance is laughable..

  8. Dan Boyle

    Read it any way like. We hate you reads only one way. I don’t care enough about these people’s warped obsessions to consider myself a ‘victim’ of them. Your passive aggressive ‘analysis’ doesn’t bother me either. I’m nothing other than a citizen and if you can’t accept my opinion without constantly bringing up irrelevant trivia, then stop bothering me or anyone else who actually wants to engage.

    1. Ami B and BS


      Someone should come down off their high horse

      It’s pretty reasonable to expect that someone who was in a senior position in one of the worst governments ever In Irish history should expect a bit of flak occasionally

        1. anyone

          You’re acting the nonce now Dan

          Try and respond to the relevant points raised instead of attacking people. Cheers.

          1. jusayinlike

            Like you attacked Nigel up above, you’ve quite the goldfish brain there Ami/anyone/Pat Kenny’s Wife

          2. Dan Boyle

            A nonce? Surely you can do better than that. There must be a few war crimes you can accuse me of?

          3. anyone

            I said you’re acting the nonce Dan again you choose to deliberately flummer around my words and come up with some victim-blaming angle in the modern style

            I see your other personae are losing their somewhat tenuous grip on reality as well

          4. Dan Boyle

            I don’t have other personae. Only undiluted me. Insulting in simile and thinking it isn’t personal is an insult to your own intelligence. I’m laughing at your cheap logic not being victimised by it.

  9. Matt Lucozade: The Only Reader of the Village

    Fair comment Dan.

    Which Lord Mayor will be the first to adopt a driverless car? Can’t wait for the court case from the drivers…

  10. Matt Lucozade: The Only Reader of the Village

    Dan has some good points here. But there are counter-arguments and the context of Irish politics and society.

    For one thing, what’s to stop the position of a directly-elected Mayor (or Irish titled equivalent) of BAC becoming as corrupt as say, the mayoral office of San Francisco?

    Secondly, what’s to stop the usual dynastic ,political-appointed “who you know” family forces coming into play? Are we to see a bunch of Byrnes, Briscoes, and Dockrells back in the Mansion House?

    It would just be another local election. As for the buffoonery of Dublin City Council members…. Mannix Street Preachers indeed.

  11. Otis Blue

    Big Phil, ex Environment Minister now EU Commissioner, claimed to have brought about the biggest reform of Local Government in 2014. In truth, he did nothing of the sort succeeding in further stripping them of powers and functions and succeeding in giving unaccountable CEO’s untrammeled authority. It’s curious how little attention or scrutiny is given to Councils given how many they employ, the influence they exert and the budgets they control. Few, if any, inspire confidence.

    Notable too that the National Planning Framework published last week has little mention of Councils or their capacities despite depending on them to implement quite a number of the proposed projects.

    1. anyone

      The councils are the breeding ground of the new poobags to be and old hasbeens put out to grass

      As such there’s simply no point in doing too much with them as they already function very effectively from a centralised party power point of view

      in any case it’s the executive who run the councils. the actual councillors do fupp all apart from the development plans

      1. Otis Blue

        All true.

        But given the amount of pooology they get up to and the wanton waste of public money there is precious little scrutiny on them.

        All we have now are stooge councillors whose only real purpose is to facilitate the CEO in whatever nonsense they’re at.

        We pay royally for this nonsense.

        1. anyone

          it’s a fair point

          I heartily recall the ‘reform’ announced by that moron in Brussels, he shut a few town councils here and there and managed to pi$$ everyone off in small towns by subcontracting out the parking enforcement to today’s gestapos. I’d love to have a few minutes alone with that fella.

  12. anyone

    you know the greens did try to devolve power to local councillors to be fair on their occasion in office.

    However as soon as Big Phil got it he ripped apart the legislation Gormley had written

    still no excuse or apology for the diesel debacle from dan though. yesterday’s man

    1. Dan Boyle

      I’m not in the habit of apologising anonymous people for things I bear absolutely no responsibility for. Live with it.

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