Waterford mayor says proposal for directly-elected mayor 'a criticism of us and of our system'

A number of county councillors in Waterford have expressed overwhelming opposition to a directly-elected mayor’s office for the city.

Seven of the eight councillors serving the Dungarvan/Lismore municipal district have expressed overwhelming opposition to a directly elected mayor’s office.

The eight-seat west Waterford district is one of three divisions in the 32-seat city and county local authority which incorporates Waterford City/Tramore (18 seats) and Comeragh (currently six).

The Dungarvan-Lismore has supplied past and present city and county mayors but Cllr Damien Geoghegan claimed the office would never again be filled from west Waterford under the new process.

The Government is pressing ahead with directly-elected mayors for Cork, Limerick and Waterford.

Cllr Geoghegan said any future mayor would likely derive from the city/Tramore region prior to “politics kicking in and money going in that direction".

He believed a further new proposal where “one-third of the council could pass a budget” supplemented the concerns.

“We could see deals being done between the mayor and a small group of councillors” he predicted. Cllr Geoghegan said mayors might ultimately not enjoy the support of a full council.

It’s a recipe for chaos.

Cllr James Tobin, an ex-mayor, feared the office would become “a political position” and open to undue influence. “It doesn’t bear thinking about”, he said.

Meanwhile, Cllr Pat Nugent had reservations the mayor’s proposed €130,000 salary would emanate from “the one budget” with a consequential loss to the provision of services.

Cllr Declan Doocey, the current Mayor, claimed the proposal was “a criticism of us and of our system”.

Favouring the current system, he observed:

I don’t see any bit of Waterford falling into the Atlantic or the Suir!

He said, presently, a policy “might need a bit of tweaking or horse trading” but “democracy prevails” in the end.

Cllr Doocey also suggested “you could end up with someone unsuitable” being mayor".

Cllr Tom Cronin likewise feared “someone who hasn’t a clue” gaining office and suggested returning “proper powers to local councillors” as a better priority.

And Cllr Séamus O’Donnell also opposed the move as “taking power away from the county manager”.

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