Limerick's first directly-elected mayor will take control of major local services

Mayor will have 'significant powers' and be paid a junior minister's wage of €137,000
Limerick's first directly-elected mayor will take control of major local services

Mayor of Limerick Michael Collins: 'Limerick has demonstrated its willingness to be a national leader when it comes to local government reform.' Picture: Brendan Gleeson

The directly-elected mayor of Limerick will be given "significant powers" and be paid a junior minister's wage of €137,000.

A vote in 2019 to create the role passed by a margin of 52.4% to 47.6% and after an extensive consultation period, the Government has approved the drafting of legislation and the publication of new details on the position.

It is hoped the first directly-elected mayor will be elected late this year. 

The first holder of the office will remain in place until 2029, with five-year terms thereafter. The report recommends that a mayor can serve a maximum of two terms of office.

Minister for State for Local Government Peter Burke, however, said the timeframe for an election was "ambitious" and will have to take heed of public health advice.

The implementation advisory group's report on the role suggests the mayor has responsibility for most of the executive functions currently carried out by the county's chief executive, including the areas of:

  • Housing and building
  • Road transport and safety
  • Water services
  • Strategic management
  • Environmental services
  • Recreation and amenity
  • Agriculture, education, health and welfare

The mayor will also develop what the report calls a “Programme for Local Government in Limerick”. This programme will set out the mayor’s vision and ambition for Limerick city and county at a strategic level.

The chief executive would take on a newly-created director-general role, which would come with a one-scale salary increase, Mr Burke said. 

However, the reserved functions of the council itself will not change and it will retain a recall function in the event that the mayor fails to discharge their duties or for stated misbehaviour. 

In this instance, 75% of councillors would be required to recall the mayor. The current mayor's role, as speaker of the council, will be renamed to Príomh Comhairle.

Mr Burke said the move was a "significant local government reform" and would "put Limerick at the core of decision-making" about the county.

Having a directly elected mayor will enable the people of Limerick to have a greater say over how services and infrastructure are delivered and how Limerick develops. 

"The new role will be a starting point, a basis on which more powers will be decentralised to Limerick over time, possibly including greater financial autonomy.

"I think it will give more direction to untap the potential that is there in Limerick.

The current mayor of Limerick, Michael Collins, said: “Limerick is an ambitious place – we’re constantly looking to innovate and this will be another big moment for us in that regard as we become the first local authority in Ireland to have a directly elected mayor. 

"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. 

"Together with the amalgamation of our local authorities, Limerick has demonstrated its willingness to be a national leader when it comes to local government reform.”

While Cork and Waterford rejected similar plans in 2019, the Government's legislation will pave the way for plebiscites on the issue in 2024. Those mayors would be elected in 2029 or perhaps earlier, Mr Burke said. 

Mr Burke said the Citizens Assembly would review the issue of a mayor for Dublin in the third quarter of this year.

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