Dáil debates

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Electoral Representation (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage


2:30 pm

Photo of Charlie O'ConnorCharlie O'Connor (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)

I am pleased to have an opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Bill, although the Minister's fine speech has left little for me to say. As per tradition, I thank the Opposition spokesman, Deputy Hogan, for his work on the legislation. In one sense I cannot wait to see, if and when Deputy Hogan becomes Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in a different type of government, what actions he takes in this area. In this instance, I suspect he would do exactly as the Minister, Deputy Gormley, has done. However, we may have to wait a while to find out whether I am right.

I do not want to say anything that will get me in trouble but having listened carefully to the contributions by Deputies Finian McGrath and O'Sullivan, I am eager that some accommodation be found, although I am aware that other Independents may have a different view. I genuinely support calls for Independents to have more opportunities to contribute. I am genuine in saying this. It has often been said of me that I should have been an Independent community candidate. It is still said of me in Tallaght that I would probably top the poll in the next general election were I to stand as an Independent community candidate. I do not take that view, however, and I am quite happy in the party I am in. It is something I feel strongly about. The Minister gets many mentions throughout my constituency of Dublin South-West and I am aware he gets many e-mails from people in Tallaght on planning issues. He is well regarded in the area; people know his name and are happy to correspond with him.

The Minister referred to Green Party policy on the mayoral election in Dublin and the need for a directly elected mayor to meet what he described as the strategic challenges faced by the city and county. I am glad he mentioned the county because sometimes when people talk about Dublin they are referring only to the city. People think I was born and bred in Tallaght - I wish I was - but I was actually born in Dublin city. During the election a constituent remarked that having been in Tallaght for 40 years, I really had not been there long at all. That is my background.

I feel strongly about the region because Dublin is about Dublin city, Fingal, Dún Laoghaire and particularly south County Dublin where I now live. I was proud to be the millennium cathaoirleach of South Dublin County Council in 1999. Members will be amused by my recollecting that I was about eight weeks into my stint when I had a heart attack, which slowed me up somewhat, although Chris Flood believed it was a great political move. I am being flippant because it was a demanding period for me, but I have never looked back politically. It did not do me any harm and, thank God, my health is good.

I have always taken a major interest in my own Dublin region. The Minister will be glad to know I have no ambitions to be Dublin mayor.


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