THE first directly-elected Mayor of Limerick could take office as early as next year the minister with responsibility for local government reform has said.
Following this week’s Yes vote in the Mayoral Plebiscite, Minister-of-State John Paul Phelan confirmed the drafting of the required legislation is the “number one priority” in the local government section of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.
“The legislative proposals must be submitted by 24 May 2021, two years after the vote, but I have asked my officials to prioritise this work. I want to bring the report and legislation forward as early as possible next year rather than in 2021,” he told Senator Maria Byrne during a debate on local government reform in the Seanad.
If the legislation which will facilitate the creation of the new office is enacted in the first half of 2020, a vote to elected the Mayor of Limerick could take place towards the end of next year – on the same day as a national referendum.
“The Government has been given a mandate by the people of Limerick to put in place the first directly elected mayor with executive functions. As Senator Byrne has said, Limerick will be the flagship for the country. I want to assure the people of Limerick that the Government plans to maximise this incredible opportunity to boost local government there,” said Mr Phelan.
For good ideas which add value, yesterday is better than today to introduce. So drive on. Very good meeting and clear desire to move from @JPPhelan, @senatormbyrne and officials. We shared some obs from last couple of weeks and I’d expect a further statement soon on next steps.— John Moran (@moranjohna1) May 29, 2019
Separately, the minister, who met with John Moran of Liveable Limerick on Wednesday, has dismissed suggestions that some politicians in Cork and Waterford will move to delay or thwart the direct election of a Mayor of Limerick.
“We now have to make Limerick a success and prove that this is the way forward for a reformed system of local government and to develop a situation where others who might have voted differently want to come down this route when they see how successful it has been in Limerick city and county,” he told Live 95 suggesting that politicians in Cork and Waterford are ‘envious’ of Limerick.