15 April 2019
By Mary Bermingham
Fine Gael has today (Monday) launched its campaign for a Yes Vote in the plebiscites for directly elected mayors in Cork, Limerick and Waterford.
The plebiscites will take place on Friday, 24th May, the same day as the Local and European elections.
Under the Government’s proposals, a directly elected mayor with executive functions would perform a significant amount of the executive functions currently performed by local authority chief executives, giving the mayoral role real teeth and helping to encourage the growth and development of Cork, Limerick and Waterford.
The Mayor would prepare and oversee implementation of a programme of office, similar to a programme for government. The Mayor would also ensure that the chief executive performs the functions of the local authority in accordance with the mayor and elected council’s policies.
The Mayor would be an ex-officio member and cathaoirleach of the elected council, contributing to the elected council’s exercise of their reserved functions and would represent the entire local authority area at local, national and international level. In Cork, the Mayor would be elected from the Cork City Council area and from the entire city and council areas in Limerick and Waterford.
Speaking at the launch of Fine Gael’s campaign in Cork, An Tánaiste, Simon Coveney said, “I passionately believe we should vote yes to establish the office of the directly elected mayor. Cork’s Lord Mayor is already a much respected office and voting yes will enhance this.”
Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government with special responsibility for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan said, “Under the Government’s proposals, a directly elected mayor with executive functions would perform a significant amount of work currently performed by local authority chief executives, giving the mayoral role real teeth. The term will eventually be for five years and the public could and the public could make up their mind then on the verdict of the mayor’s term should he/she decide to run again.”
Fine Gael’s Director of the Cork Plebiscite, Jerry Buttimer said it is essential we fully debate the role and function of the new post and get as many people as possible engaged with the issues ahead of the vote.
“There is ample time to inform and campaign but we cannot be complacent and assume it is going to pass. We have to get out there and inform the public of why this will be a good for local government. A directly elected Lord Mayor will make a statement, send out a vision for political leadership and offer an increased democratic mandate and accountability. The new role will provide new transparency of the workings of the city council and act as a strategic driver of Cork and the wider region,” Senator Buttimer said.
Ireland South MEP and former Lord Mayor of Cork, Deirdre Clune said: “As a former Lord Mayor of Cork City and the third generation of my family honoured to have held that positon, I have a distinct understanding of what the current role entails. However, a directly elected mayor for Cork would be a substantive step forward in placing our city on an equal footing with similar cities in Britain and in Europe, in terms of strategic planning, transport, tourism and attracting foreign business.
“The Lord Mayor as first citizen is a special position for its citizens and I believe that it is important that the people should have a direct say in who that first citizen will be. A directly elected mayor would have powers to influence transport and traffic policy, sustainable transport, tourism, trade and economy, marketing, infrastructure and other services.
“The Lord Mayor will represent over 200,000 people, controlling a substantial budget, speaking for the people of Cork city. We are asking the voters in Cork, Limerick and Waterford for their opinion on the matter. The intent is to re-balance the functions exercised by elected council and the functions exercised by the Chief Executive ensuring more accountability and effective delivery by a representative of the people,” Ms Clune said.