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Limerick City

Limerick to become Ireland's first locality with directly elected mayor

Limerick to become Ireland's first locality with directly elected mayor

The forthcoming legislation has been hailed as the most significant reform of local government since the foundation of the Republic

In May 2019, the residents of Limerick city and county voted in favour of a Directly Elected Mayor with executive powers. Two years later, achieving that goal is within a hand’s reach, following last week’s decision by the Irish Government to fast track draft legislation for the rights and duties of the new post.

End of ceremonial functions

So far, Irish mayors have been elected by their fellow councillors for a one-year term. Apart from chairing council meetings, their role is mostly ceremonial, although capable of securing political clout.

"It is the most significant reform of local government since the foundation of our State. It is a huge opportunity for Limerick to grasp," said Minister for State for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke, quoted by RTÉ. He added that the Government is in a race against time to deliver the legislation and have an election this year but is firmly committed to honour the wish of the people of Limerick.  

Election for the post of Directly Elected Mayor is expected to be held before the end of 2021. The first term of the new Limerick mayor will run until the local elections of 2029. 

The Directly Elected Mayor will have powers over housing, building, road transport and safety, strategic development and environmental services, with a potential transfer of additional functions by Government departments in the future. He would have the right, at least in theory, to be consulted on decisions by Irish Water, Slainte Care (programme to transform the nation’s health and social care services), as well as about national transport plans, education and training, according to Burke.

The new Limerick mayor will be responsible for drafting the annual municipal budget (currently worth EUR 401 million) and present it for approval by the elected Council. He will also be tasked with developing a 'Programme for Local Government in Limerick', a document laying out the mayor’s vision and ambitions for the area. 

The Directly Elected Mayor will be paid EUR 130 000 or the equivalent of a Minister of State's salary and will have a staff of five individuals, including a special advisor. The elected Council will retain its current functions, while its Chief Executive will be renamed a ‘Director General’ and will be responsible for managing and accounting for the council’s finances.

First among equals  

Incumbent Limerick Mayor Michael Collins welcomed the move to draft legislation, recalling that Limerick will be playing the lead again, as it did in 2014. “Limerick is an ambitious place; we’re constantly looking to innovate and this will be another big moment for us in that regard as we become the first local authority in Ireland to have a directly elected mayor. This is not the first time we’ve been forging new frontiers in local government as in 2014 we became the first city and county local authorities to amalgamate,” said Collins, quoted by limerick.ie.

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