Directly-elected mayor role is latest example of Limerick driving reform

Directly-elected mayor role is latest example of Limerick driving reform

Mayor of Limerick, Michael Collins, believes Limerick is an ambitious place which is constantly looking to innovate. Picture: Brendan Gleeson

Limerick having the country's first directly-elected mayor is just the latest example of the city and county taking the lead in driving local government reform.

That is according to the current mayor, Michael Collins who added that Limerick is an ambitious place which is constantly looking to innovate.

"This is not the first time we’ve been forging new frontiers in local government as in 2014 we became the first city and county local authorities to amalgamate," he said. 

"In 2019, the people of Limerick voted in favour of a directly elected Mayor. The acceptance by Government of the Report of the IAG and approving the drafting of legislation means that today we are another step closer to achieving that goal."

John Moran, who currently chairs the Land Development Agency, also welcomed the latest progress.

This is actually a key part of Limerick becoming a single Limerick, meaning that there's no city versus county, it's one Limerick, this is a very important step forward to achieving that.

“But it's a big job. It's a really important role. From the Government announcement you can see that it is not a ceremonial role, this is a person who's going to have to manage a big budget."

Mr Moran said he hopes the position will see Limerick become a growth engine for Ireland.

There has been local speculation that he will put himself forward for the position, a move he did not rule out when asked, but he said the important job now is “making sure this doesn’t drop off the government radar".

“They (candidates) need to be able to have the experience and skills to get a hold of all of those complex issues, and the budgets that go with them because we don't want money wasted. It's scarce enough, so we want it spent well, we want good decisions in terms of being a progressive location that lots of people want to call home."

Limerick City and County Council chief executive Dr Pat Daly said: “This is another moment when Limerick will break new ground. We look forward to working with the Department to finalise the necessary legislative requirements to ensure the introduction of the Directly Elected Mayor. We also look forward to details around additional functions for the role and making the absolute best of this departure.”

Local activist Nigel Dugdale has advocated for the role to become a reality since it was first suggested.

“I think that maybe now is the opportunity for us to put ourselves forward as a real candidate for Ireland’s second city, and if not, to put ourselves forward as a city and county that really can start to make the most of the opportunities that we have,” said Mr Dugdale.

The fact is, we've managed now to emerge as the only city to vote for this. I think this is an opportunity for us to really make a difference here. We've got the 2030 plan with numerous other plans that are in the pipeline for Limerick but I think we need real leadership.

Asked whether he would be putting himself forward for the new role, he said he was flattered, but there were more qualified people available.

“I might be an advocate for my city and I might be someone who is passionate for my city, but I fundamentally do not have the skill sets that are required in order to deliver the vision that I might have,” Mr Dugdale explained.

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