A cabinet-style system of local democracy, akin to a parliamentary model, should be considered as an alternative by the Dublin Citizens’ Assembly on a directly-elected mayor, according to David Gardiner, Workers’ Party representative for Palmerstown-Fonthill.
Gardiner explained: “In order to properly democratise our local authorities, the party or coalition with the most seats in a council should elect a cabinet to govern locally, not dissimilar to how the Dáil functions.”
“This cabinet, composed of a mayor and vice-mayors with responsibility for the council’s various functions, would have the power to govern and could be held accountable by voters at the next local elections.”
“At the moment, unelected and unaccountable Chief Executives ultimately decide what a council can and can’t do. We can’t vote these people out because they’re appointed by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.”
“By replacing the Chief Executive with a cabinet, we would be better positioned to hold the council accountable when election time comes around. This would be a major win for democracy on a local basis.”
“For a council to function properly, it is better that the mayor, the head of that body, be a part of it rather than somebody outside of it. A mayor elected outside of the council could be completely at odds with councillors politically, leading to a political deadlock. This is why the Workers’ Party believes that a cabinet–style local government is preferable and more democratic.”
‘’However, for reform of local government to be truly effective, the introduction of a cabinet-style system must be part of a broader set of measures including the return of power to local authorities, including additional finance raising powers for local authorities, responsibility for childcare, education and other public services, as well as the introduction of a new Dublin regional authority governing the Greater Dublin Area.”