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#Elections2019: Limerick votes in favour of directly elected mayor

Limerick has voted for a directly elected Mayor, who will receive a salary of €129,854 plus benefits.

They will also receive additional funds of between €313,000 to €450,000 to run their office.

The funds will come from a €10m Local Government Reform Fund.

Speaking after the announcement was made at Limerick Racecourse, Monday, sitting mayor of the city and county, James Collins, said he was “delighted” with the result.

Collins has said he is interested in seeking a Dáil seat with Fianna Fáil.

However, he hinted he may yet put his name forward for the new mayor role.

“Every politician is interested in an election," he said.

“I’ve had a very successful year under the current system and I think I’ve seen what could be possible if you had somebody with executive powers putting the best interests of Limerick at heart,” he added.

A report into the proposal, which is now backed by the public, is to be presented before the Dail, and legislation has to be drafted and voted on.

“It’s a huge opportunity for Limerick. The hope is we get what we voted for, and that it doesn't get watered down as it passes through the (Senate),” Mr Collins said.

A directly elected mayor would oversee the functions of a local authority, taking on executive functions, including overseeing the Council’s budget and development plan.

However, individual planning decisions would remain with the Council’s Chief Executive.

Despite acknowledgement by some in the Yes Camp, that the campaign had been poorly run, the vote was carried by a margin of 3,549.

The declared result showed 38,122 votes were cast in favour of the proposal, with 34,573 voting against it.

The total valid poll was 72,695 and there were 1,975 invalid votes.

John Moran, a former General Secretary at the Department of Finance, who chairs the Land Development Agency, has championed the initiative.

Mr Moran also remained tight-lipped about whether or not he was interested in the job.

“I’m not ruling it out, but I’m not ruling it in either,” he said.

Mr Moran called on Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, who “is responsible for this” to act on the proposal sooner, rather than later.

“It’s time now for him to get this on his agenda. There’s a proposal out there and it needs to be driven home now.”

Fine Gael Plebiscite Director of Elections Maria Byrne, who had steered the Yes campaign in Limerick, said she and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar were “absolutely delighted” with the outcome of the voting.

Senator Byrne, Mr Moran and Cllr Collins all acknowledged the campaign could have been improved upon.

Fine Gael had stated in a number of public information meetings on the topic, prior to voting day, and explained that a directly elected mayor would mean stronger lobbying powers in government.

If given the green light by legislators, the new mayor’s role would help place Limerick “at the heart of the region” and “help create a counter balance to Dublin”.

Meanwhile, Waterford rejected the proposal and it too close to call in Cork with the 'No' vote slightly ahead.

This comes as Waterford rejected the proposal.

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