The prospect of a directly elected mayor of Dublin moved a step closer today when the Government approved a process that will see all four local councils in the capital vote on the issue.

If all four back the proposal and a majority of councillors vote yes by the end of this month, the Government may then approve a plebiscite on a directly elected mayor.

In that event, it is likely to be held in Dublin alongside the Local and European Elections.

Minister for Local Government Phil Hogan said: "This process is an exciting development in bottom-up democracy, allowing elected members the first say in what optimal governance should be in Dublin.

"It will also close off the debate of the past decade or more on a directly elected mayor in Dublin."