VOTERS in Limerick have narrowly endorsed proposals for a directly-elected mayor with executive powers and responsibilities.
The result of the Mayoral Plebiscite was announced shortly before 1.30pm this Monday following the counting of votes which began at Limerick Racecourse at 9am.
The final result was Yes 38,122 - No 34,573.
Limerick votes YES to a directly elected Mayor. Thanks to all who voted, whether yes or no. One of the largest changes in the structure of local government in a century. Massive opportunity to use the election process to create a dialogue about the future of the city and county.— Stephen Kinsella (@stephenkinsella) May 27, 2019
The plebiscite was rejected by voters in Waterford and the result from Cork City has yet to be announced.
Speaking at the count centre in Limerick, John Moran, chairman of Liveable Limerick welcomed the result.
"I guess it's brilliant, I mean a lot of of people have fought really hard for this over the past couple of weeks. For me, and the other people who cared about this, it was all about democracy and Limerick stating that it's ready for another phase," he said.
"The one thing that struck me is that it wasn't the city saying they wanted it and it wasn't the county saying the wanted it - this was a considered view across the whole of the county that they wanted this change," he added.
Cllr James Collins, Mayor of Limerick City and County has also welcomed the result of the vote.
"I think it's a huge opportunity for Limerick, I think it's a good thing that the people of Limerick will elect the decision makers and I think Limerick can be a real driver for the Mid West Region. I think under the new system the people of Limerick will be able to choose who they want their main decision maker to be," he said.
Cllr Collins, who topped the poll in Limerick City West at the weekend, has called on the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy to immediatly begin the process of drafting the necessary legislation to give effect to the plebiscite result.
Senator Maria Byrne, the Fine Gael director of elections for Limerick, was also present at Limerick Racecourse when the result was announced.
"I'm absolutely delighted, I put an awful lot of work into it along with the team and we worked very much as a team. It's all about supporting Limerick and making it very much at the heart of the region and that is really what the thought process was," she said adding that she has already been in contact with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who canvassed for a Yes vote in Limerick earlier this month.
Reacting to the result, Niall Collins TD stated: "This is a good result for Limerick city and county. The challenge for the Government is now to recognise this result and proceed to implement the will of the people of Limerick. Having a directly elected Mayor in Limerick will open and strengthen our local democracy and will provide another platform to advocate for the region. Having added my voice and support to the Yes Campaign and I’m hugely encouraged by the result.”
While no date for the legislation to be passed has been set, it is hoped the first election for a directly-elected mayor will take place in 2022.