Sunday, 9 March 2014

Female quotas needed in local elections

Mary celebrating International Women Day
 wearing a gift from the talented
Dublin jewelry designer
 http://maireaddeblacajewellery.com/
Minister Phil Hogan could show a real commitment to gender equality in Irish politics by dedicating 50% of seats to females in the local authority elections on May 23rd.  Instead his requirement that 30% of candidates in the next general election be female is nothing more than a conjuring exercise and  real gender equality in Irish politics will only be delivered if it is first introduced at local authority level and applied to seats and not just names on electoral tickets. .

In reality we have a de facto male monopoly in Irish politics at present. Less than 16% of our elected representatives in the Oireachtas are female. Women represent 52% of the population but make up just 15% of elected representatives. Ireland is currently ranked 89th in the world for female political participation. The Government’s “plan” to require political parties at the next general election to have at least 30% of their candidates be female is nothing more than an elaborate conjuring trick designed to create the illusion that they are making a serious effort to address the abysmal gender inequality in Irish politics. The reality, sadly, will be quite different. Political parties and groups will find a way around the 30% quota, to retain their funding, by selecting female candidates in areas where they know they have little chance of winning a seat. So rather than bringing about any seismic change in gender equality, the governments quota system may only make a bad situation worse.  

If the Government is serious about increasing women’s participation in politics it should make a real initiative and begin the process at local level by dedicating 50% of seats to females in the local authority elections on May 23rd and at the next elections five years later.  Local councils are the route the vast majority of elected representatives, men and woman, take when getting into politics in the first place. For example, some 19 of the 25 women elected to the current Dail began their political careers at local authority level”, Councillor Fitzpatrick added. “It is where you cut your teeth in politics, where people get to know you, where you learn how the system works and where you can plant the seeds to a more ambitious career in politics if you are good at representing the people who elected you. That is why introducing a 50% quota of women on local authorities would encourage more females to run in elections at local level and as a result begin building the increased participation of many more women in politics. In other words, you start building gender equality from the bottom up rather than peddling the cosmetic sap to women’s equality that the 30% female candidates quota planned for the next general election.  Mary

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Dublin Directly Elected Mayor

Dublin City Councillors met yesterday evening in the Mansion House to discuss the proposal for a Directly Elected Mayor for Dublin. At the meeting they were advised that Minister Hogan will give feedback on their proposal for a Directly Elected Mayor for Dublin and his wording for a plebescite sometime after March 11th and before March 31st.

Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick, Dublin Candidate for the European Parliament and leader of the Fianna Fail Group on Dublin City Council, is a long standing supporter of local government reform and a Directly Elected Mayor for Dublin. Speaking after the meeting Mary Fitzpatrick said “A directly elected Lord Mayor could make a real difference for Dublin however now it looks like the plebiscite is in real jeopardy and might not even be held. It is completely unacceptable that the Minister is on the one hand insisting that Councillors on the four Dublin Local Authorities hold a meeting and vote on whether or not to put the Minister’s proposal to the people of Dublin before March 31st yet the Minister has not provided City and County Councillors with his wording to allow them consider and debate it.”

Last year the Minister announced that he would allow the people of Dublin to decide on whether or not they want a Directly Elected Mayor. He introduced legislation that required City and County Councillors from the four Dublin Local Authorities to work together to produce a joint report outlining a possible framework for a Directly Elected Mayor for the Minister to consider. This report was submitted to the Minister in December 2013 and he will decide on the final wording for a plebiscite. The Minister’s legislation requires the four Dublin Local Authorities to then vote before March 31st 2014 on whether or not to put the Minister’s wording to the people of Dublin in a plebescite this May.

The Minister is denying councilors and the public the opportunity to debate his proposal by failing to outline the powers and authority he will give to the office.

There is a real risk if the Minister does not give Councillors sufficient time to consider his response to our proposal there will be no referendum on this issue in May and the people of Dublin will be denied their say. This will truly be a missed opportunity for Dublin as surveys show that there is strong support from the general public for a Directly Elected Mayor for Dublin

A Directly Elected Executive Mayor could provide real and accountable political leadership for the people of Dublin. This would not only be good for residents and employers in Dublin but it would also greatly enhance Dublin’s ability to compete Internationally.

I call on the Minister to stop sitting on the report and to immediately advise councillors on all four Dublin Local Authorities of his intentions with regards to his proposal for a Directly Elected Mayor for Dublin.  Mary

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Social Housing

I was delighted to attend the official launch of the Fold Ireland Social Housing Project in Ballygall Road East in Finglas this morning.   This is a great initiative by Fold Ireland and Dublin City Council and it will make a real difference for those fortunate to secure one of the 26 new homes. However, with 20,000 on Dubin City Council's housing list, no matter how welcome this is, it really is just a drop in the ocean.  The government still appears to have no real plan to meaningfully tackle the overall problem. I have repeatedly called on the government to tackle the worsening housing crisis and I again renew my invitation to the Minister to meet with Dublin City Councillors and to work with us to develop a plan to really try to fix the problem.  The government must act now.  Mary

Friday, 21 February 2014

Luas

Works on the Luas cross-city to Broombridge are ongoing in the city center and on Tuesday 25th Feb works will commence on Dawson Street.  As part of these works traffic will be reduced to one lane on Dawson Street, the works will last 3-4 months.  For more information on alternative traffic routes to avoid Dawson Street please click HERE  Mary

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Local Area Plan

As a City Councillor I actively engaged and worked with local residents and Dublin City Council planners and administrators to prepare the Phibsborough Local Area Plan which was adopted and approved by the full City Council in 2008.  The need for a plan was driven by the fact that, despite being designated a Prime Urban Center in the City Development Plan, Phibsborough remained underdeveloped and planning standards needed to be set-out to ensure that development of the area and significant large sites in the area would be guided by best planning standards.  It is disappointing that the LAP has not been realized but I reject the proposal brought forward at the end of last year by City Council Planners to scrap the LAP. I raised this issue with the City Manager, the Chair of the Planning SPC and following my representations the matter was put on the agenda of the January and February Central Area Committee.  Following my interventions residents and community groups have been invited to attend a meeting with Dublin City Council's planning department to discuss and agree next steps.  I will continue to work with Dublin City Council, residents and other stakeholders to achive the highest standard of development in Phibsborough.  Mary