A COMMITTEE set up by Local Government Minister Alan Kelly to look at Limerick’s two-mayor system has no representation from the city or county.
After Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan raised the issue of Limerick having both a metropolitan mayor and an overall city and county mayor, Mr Kelly said he had initiated a review into this.
It falls into the remit of the Local Government Advisory group. While this group contains representatives of local authorities in Carlow, Kildare, Tipperary, Donegal and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown,there is no-one from Limerick, or indeed Waterford, where there is also a two-mayor system in place.
It has led to concern from some public representatives, with metropolitan mayor Cllr Jerry O’Dea calling on Mr Kelly to include a Limerick representative.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael council leader John Sheahan, who met Mr Kelly this week, urged him to “desist” from making any changes to Limerick’s dual mayoralty system, at least for the time being.
“The power was given to us in the Local Government Reform Act to decide on roles. We have done so, and are putting a protocol around the pecking order of the mayors and the chairs. We would be hoping this will solve any confusion around the system,” said Cllr Sheahan, who met Mr Kelly as part of his role as PRO of the Local Authority Members Association.
He did say he was surprised the advisory committee had no Limerick representation.
“I do find it surprising that some submission has not been made from a merged authority where there is a transition to two mayors. Someone should, at least if they are not on the committee, be making a submission,” said the Glin councillor.
Mayor O’Dea added: “I would be calling on the minister to make sure there is representation from both Limerick and Waterford on this committee so the unique positions and the history of both cities could be represented.”
Labour councillor Joe Leddin – who saw a motion to abolish the metropolitan mayoralty defeated – said: “I’m just delighted this review group has been established. It shows intend on behalf of the minister that this issue of a dual mayoralty, be it in Limerick, Waterford, or anywhere else, is not sustainable going forward.
“It might be a problem in Waterford and Limerick today, but who’s to say it won’t be a problem if they decide to merge Cork city and county, or Galway city and county? The same issue will arise. The mettle needs to be grasped.”
Although there were suggestions in the wake of Cllr Leddin’s motion last month that Mr Kelly was to act on the two mayors by initiating a ministerial order to abolish one, a spokesperson for the Department of the Environment, Communities and Local Government said this is not on the table at present.
City and County Mayor Liam Galvin said: “As things stand, things are working quite well. But it is something that needs to be looked at.”