"I Don't Think They Ever Envisioned A Woman In The Position"
We had a chat with Dublin's Lord Mayor about the female heroes of 1916, rent control, and coddle
One of the first things Críona Ní Dhálaigh tells me when I meet her in the Mansion House is that she's not a massive fan of the title 'Lord Mayor'.
People ask me, "Shouldn't you be called the Lady Mayoress?" But no, Lord Mayor is the official title. Lady Mayoress is the title of the partner of the mayor, whether they're a man or a woman – which is kind of ridiculous as well. I don't think they ever envisioned a woman in the position.Lord Mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh
The Gaelgeoir much prefers to be called Ardmhéara, the Irish version of the title to which she was elected on June 29.
And while she's the 346th person to assume the office, she's only the eighth woman to take this position – and the first member of Sinn Féin.
Delighted to assume this prestigious role, the Lord Mayor claims Dublin's people as our "number one asset," a fact supported by the fact we've recently been voted the second friendliest city in the world.
The Ardmhéara wants to see Dublin become a more attractive place to live and visit during her time in office, seeing major events like the recent IRONMAN 70.3 (which attracted 2,500 participants), as crucial to keeping Dublin the "engine of Ireland's economy."
Maith sibh 2,500 iomaitheoiri in Dublin IRONMAN 70.3. Well done to all special shout out to DCC who made it happen pic.twitter.com/DB4o2KnPVB— Críona Ní Dhálaigh (@CllrNiDhalaigh) August 9, 2015
With this in mind, the Sinn Féin politician is hoping to raise awareness for the Dublin2020 bid to become the European Capital of Culture.
She is also a staunch supporter of the Sister City International programme that sees Irish cities paired with American counterparts, such as Dublin with San José (who gives a scholarship to a Dublin student every year to the value of $50,000). The Sister City programme aims to promote personal contact between Irish and American people as a means of maintaining our transatlantic relationship.
In an effort to boost these relationships, there will be a Sister City Summit in April of next year that is hoped to attract thousands of American visitors. The 64 American cities who are twinned with Irish cities and towns will be invited to this summit, and it is hoped that American Vice President Joe Biden will also be in attendance.
As the first citizen of Dublin, the Lord Mayor will be presiding over the city's 1916 Rising centenary commemorations next year alongside the President and the Taoiseach.
During the course of the celebrations, the Ardmhéara is determined to draw attention the the unsung female heroes of the Easter Rising. After all, she says, the 1916 proclamation was the first proclamation to give equal rights to women:
There was only one garrison during the 1916 Rising that didn't have women. Women were very much involved in the Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War. There's been this airbrushing of women's involvement from Irish history, and it's wrong. We need to address that and give the women involved in Ireland's struggle for freedom the due recognition.
With a view to capitalising on the appeal of one of our greatest tourist attractions, the Guinness Storehouse, the Lord Mayor also hopes to establish a "historical and revolutionary trail" in the Liberties area before the 1916 celebrations, which the Lord Mayor refers to as the heart of Dublin.
The Sinn Fein politician spoke of how delighted she is that she'll be the Lord Mayor during the centenary.
Being the first citizen of Dublin for the hundred year anniversary of the 1916 Rising is an absolute honour and a privilege and I'm so looking forward to it.
With the coming 1916 celebrations meaning so much to the Ardmhéara, I asked what she thought the heroes of the Rising would think of the Dublin that exists today:
The problem is, the ideals for which they aspired in their proclamation, we still haven't achieved them. We still don't have equality, we still don't have a 32 county independent state, so I'm sure they would be disappointed in some ways, but in other ways we have come on. For one thing, I think they'd be proud of our standard of education and we've come on leaps and bounds in our self-awareness and confidence as a nation.
For all the positivity lifting the city at the moment, the Lord Mayor is aware that there are still threats to deal with. The housing crisis that confronts the capital at present is her number one priority, with current estimates being 7,000 new houses a year needed just to meet the current demand.
Her passion for housing and community regeneration is clear to see as she serves on three major housing regeneration boards. However, the Lord Mayor knows she can't make this change alone, it will take a greater degree of political will to achieve these goals.
It's the Lord Mayor's hope to sit down with Minister of Environment, Community & Local Government Alan Kelly, in order to find long-term solutions to these problems.
We're in the middle of a housing crisis and if it's allowed to continue, I fear for the future of this city. We need to bring in legislation that makes the private rental sector affordable and sustainable. For me, implementing emergency measures seems easy, but I've no doubt that it is no such thing for a minister. I'd just ask that we could meet with Alan Kelly so we could at least have a discussion and try to find a solution together.
Seeing as this is Lovin' Dublin, I couldn't let our Lord Mayor go without asking her something about food, so I asked what her last meal would be if she had to choose. Her response was fairly unexpected:
You can't beat an auld coddle, it's gorgeous. When I tell people from down the country about it they think it sounds revolting, but it's beautiful. I'd go up to mother's house for last meal, sometimes I'm worried because she doesn't actually tell you what she puts in it, but she makes the best one. It's out of this world.
To find Dublin's Ardmhéara on Twitter, just click here.