Labour Councillor Brendan Carr was elected Lord Mayor of Dublin at the Annual Meeting of Dublin City Council tonight.
Councillor Carr was first elected to the City Council on 18 June 1999 where he served until 2009. During this period, he was the first Councillor to be elected as Deputy Lord Mayor as served in that position for one year from 1st July 2002.
He was re-elected to the City Council to represent the Cabra/Finglas Ward of the North West Electoral Area in the Local Elections in June 2014.
Note to the Editor
Address by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr, to the Annual Meeting of Dublin City Council, Monday, 27th June, 2016
Fellow councillors and visitors,
Firstly, I want to thank the Labour Party for having the faith and trust in nominating me to this position, to Sinn Fein, the Green Party and all the Independent councillors who have done me the great honour of electing me the First Citizen of Dublin. To those of you who felt you could not support my candidature this evening, I hope that during my term you will find me impartial and collaborative in my approach and a Lord Mayor who is concerned with fairly representing the views of all the councillors in this chamber.
I want to thank all my family, all my friends and everyone who has contributed to my election here this evening. I particularly want to thank my wife Suzanne for all her support and for putting up with me, which as a councillor, trade union official and avid Dubs supporter cannot be easy. To my son Jason, you have made me the proudest Dad in the world and I hope tonight I’ve made you a little bit proud as well.
Councillors, it is my hope that I can follow in the tradition of recent Lord Mayors in seeking to reconnect our Council with all sections of Dublin’s residents, including those that have felt the most marginalised and excluded from civic life.
In particular, I wish to congratulate Críona and Deputy Lord Mayor Cieran Perry for the role they played over the last year in making our city’s celebration of the centenary of the Easter Rising such a success.
Both ensured that the progressive ideals of those who led the Rising were to the fore in commemorative events that focused on community involvement. I’m sure I speak for all in this chamber, and many outside it, when I state that Críona, as the first Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Dublin, you did yourself, your family, your party, this Council and most of all the people of this city proud over the last year. I want to thank you for your service to the people of Dublin.
As Lord Mayor I intend to fairly represent the views of all councillors on this Council and allow every councillor in this chamber to have their voice heard in a fair and impartial manner, I am however, a proud member of the Labour Party and the Labour Movement as a whole. The values of fairness, social justice, equality and the belief that through co-operative activity we can best improve all our futures are ones that will guide me as the first citizen of this city. These beliefs were instilled in me in the cradle, and ones that I will take to the grave. For instilling these values in me I must thank someone who cannot be in this chamber tonight but I know is looking down on me and all my family with pride and that’s my Mam.
She was the one person who taught me that I could never be content as long as others less fortunate than myself needed help, I just hope Mam that I served you proud. For introducing me to the movements that I believe do most to advance these values I must thank my Dad. My Dad once ran in the local elections for the Labour Party and was a committed trade union official so as someone recently said to me “You didn’t lick it of a stone” – I’m sincerely grateful to both of you, it is your support and encouragement through my whole life that gave me the strength and commitment to be actively involved in the Labour movement today, and in turn sit here as Dublin’s first citizen.
We must accept that in recent years in Ireland and globally the reputation of electoral politics has taken a battering. As elected representatives we must work to ensure that people can have trust in the ethos of democratic politics and public service. In the coming months I hope to work with you, my fellow councillors, the CEO, to whom I wish a speedy recovery, senior management and all the staff of Dublin City Council, on a number of initiatives which I hope will tackle directly some of the most pressing needs of the citizens of our city. And, in case of doubt, when I use the term citizen of Dublin, I mean it in the sense of all those wherever they were born or whatever nationality who now call this city their home.
Foremost among our citizens who currently need the assistance and support of this Council are the residents of the North Inner City. The communities of this area are some of the proudest and close knit in Dublin. These are the communities that provided the backbone to many of our great struggles for a better society, from the Great Lockout of 1913 to more recently standing up to the scourge of illegal drugs. In recent decades, these communities have discovered a new vibrancy as they have successfully integrated people from many different lands and cultures.
Unfortunately, the murderous campaign of a criminal gang spawned by the drugs trade, whose leaders reside in sunnier climes, has sown terror and hate within this community in the heart of our city. However, this crisis and the political focus it has placed on the needs of the North Inner City must not be wasted. I want to reassure the people of the North Inner City that I as Lord Mayor and this Council are standing shoulder to shoulder with you in the struggle to defeat the evil that has invaded your community. I will actively use the office of the Lord Mayor to assist in any way possible with the Government’s initiative to rid our city of this violence. Let the crime lords take heed, our city is not some playground for their greed and violent desires – it is the home of proud communities that will no longer be cowed.
Another message I wish to send out from this council chamber tonight is one of positivity and appreciation of those businesses who treat their workers with respect and pay them a Living Wage. A Living Wage is that which provides workers with the means to provide for the physical, psychological and social needs of themselves and their families. It also allows them to play a full role within local economies as consumers of goods and services.
The Living Wage Technical Group, which was established by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice includes a number of researchers from various backgrounds. It currently calculates a Living Wage for workers in a full-time job in Ireland as €11.50 per hour.
I believe our Council should seek to emulate the success of schemes elsewhere in Europe and the US, and strive to become a Living Wage city. Consumers deserve to be informed whether the shop, café, restaurant or other business where they decide to spend their money, pay a Living Wage and in turn businesses deserve to be recognised if they pay the Living Wage.
To that end, I intend to work with councillors, business associations and workers’ organisations to design and commission a plaque which businesses that pay the Living Wage can display prominently at the entrances of their premises. In case anyone in the government parties might feel that this sounds a bit too much like creeping socialism for their liking, may I allay their fears by pointing out that even that right-wing menace of Europe, Boris Johnson, supported the London Living Wage campaign during his period as Lord Mayor of London.
Working towards Dublin becoming a better city to live, work and do business in, necessitates even the most difficult issues being faced up to and solutions found. Criminals reoffending is not only an issue for the victims of crime but also wider society – I want this council to show it is willing to work with those who wish to break from a cycle of criminal activity. Not only because it is the morally right thing to do but because it is the only practical way of making our city a safer and more rewarding place to live and do business. And there are solutions. Drawing on best international practice in the coming months the Office of the Lord Mayor will work with NGOs, state agencies, businesses and elected representatives towards the creation of a register of workplaces which are willing to give those seeking to break free of a cycle of crime a chance. This simply means offering people who show a strong personal commitment to changing the course of their lives the chance to take up places in a monitored job placement scheme.
In this way people who might otherwise create problems for our city can find a way to become contributors to the common good.
Our writers, singers, Georgian architecture, artists and renowned hospitality marks Dublin out as one of the leading city destinations for tourists in Europe, because let’s face it they don’t come here for the weather. Unfortunately, investment in the arts and culture has been one of the area’s most heavily impacted by cuts in recent years. This is a false economy when the multiplier effects of investment in this sector in terms of tourism are taken into account. It is my intention to ensure Dublin’s artistic and literally life is not only maintained but developed. I propose this is done through the introduction a 1% tax on the cost of each hotel bed in the city. It is estimated that this levy, although very small on an individual basis would accumulate several million euro in funds which can be invested in artistic and cultural events, institutions and infrastructure.
The hotel industry has enjoyed a very significant increase in business over the past number of years, a favourable tax regime and yet still refuses to establish minimum terms and conditions for its workers, so I can only imagine implementing this policy will involve surmounting obstacles. However, I believe with the willingness of key parties, including Government, that these obstacles are surmountable and in turn we can ensure a bright future of the Arts in our city.
As the now President Michael D Higgins showed when he launched the Percentage of Arts Scheme in 1993, once the problems are overcome the legacy of such investment on our lived environment can last generations.
The issue of showing leadership and a determination to overcome possible obstacles brings me to the last major initiative I wish to outline this evening. Tonight in this city over 900 families including more than 1,800 children will bed down in homeless shelters, hotel rooms and other unacceptable accommodation. A period of homelessness can have lasting and irreversible effects on children and adults. This is a human tragedy that should be at the fore of this Council’s deliberations at every meeting until it is solved.
As the elected council of Dublin City we must accept that the buck stops with us in relation to the homeless crisis. My predecessors Councillor Burke and Councillor Ní Dhálaigh have done much to highlight this problem as the single biggest issue in our city. During my term I wish to build on their work and move towards, as in the past, this local authority creating the solutions to end this scandal. As has been shown in recent months once galvanised into action the people of Dublin can rise up and campaign in order to drive change. We must lead such a call to action on the housing crisis.
This evening, I commit to working with the Department of Environment and all other statutory agencies to establish within the coming weeks a clear road map to ending the housing crisis that is the shame of our city. We, as Dublin City Council must now accept ownership of this issue and take responsibility for ending it. No longer can the issue of homelessness and housing be a debate between representatives of this Council and the Department of Environment. We are the largest housing authority in this country and during my Mayoralty we will show leadership in resolving the issue.
The Department of Environment must give us the resources and support mechanisms to alleviate the scourge of homelessness on the streets of our city, rather than telling us what we can or can’t do they must trust us and support us to resolve the issue. In a move aimed at building this trust and a shared understanding of the scale of the problem of homelessness in Dublin, I will invite the Minister for the Environment, Simon Coveney, to join me on a late night food run with those selfless volunteers who everyday seek to assist those in dire need on our streets.
Councillors, succeeding with these initiatives will necessitate that this chamber moves beyond one overly focused on high minded debate and instead towards generating concrete action. I commit to working with you to, where needed, reform the operation of this Council to achieve this goal.
It is from the citizens of Dublin that this council gains its strength. We must show those citizens that this strength can be deployed to find solutions to the problems and drive improvements, for this great city of ours.
Finally, it would be re-miss of me to finish up this evening without mentioning developments in Europe. As democrats we must accept the decision of the British people to leave the EU but it is in the best interests of Dubliners that the strong bonds that unite our two nations are maintained in all circumstances. I therefore intend to communicate with my counterpart, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, to establish a working group to ensure that both our cities are prepared and prosper from whatever new arrangement emerges.
I was sickened to my core however, when during the EU referendum campaign I witnessed a poster portraying the suffering of men, women and children being used to entice intolerance and hate. I want to make it perfectly clear that anyone who would initiate, associate with or support the use of the suffering of their fellow human beings in such a manner for political gain is not welcome in our city.
Unfortunately, there was also another exit from Europe in recent days. That was of a group of men who have truly done themselves and their country proud. Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland team and its fans wrote a new glorious chapter in the history of Irish football in France over recent weeks. The team has brought joy to the country as a whole but without Dubs such as Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan, to name just two, it would not have achieved what it did. In honour of all those involved and also the fans, who once again showed the world the right way to support your country, I would like to invite the players and management team to a civic reception in the Mansion House.
Councillors, our city faces many challenges and also great opportunities. I hope we can together, in the coming months, intensify our work to connect the citizens of Dublin with their elected authority and gain their support and input into making our city one of the best places in the world to live and work. For to paraphrase one of our greatest thinkers, James Connolly – “Dublin without her people is nothing to me”.