Directly elected Mayor of Limerick will have 'real power' 

Junior minister describes the new role as the biggest reform of local government in the history of the State
Directly elected Mayor of Limerick will have 'real power' 

The first mayor of Limerick will remain in place until 2029, with five-year terms thereafter. 

The directly elected Mayor of Limerick will have the power to set policies around grants, will be a statutory consultee in policing and Sláintecare, and will have the right to meet with Government ministers under plans for the role.

Minister of State for Local Government Peter Burke says the role will have "real power" when its first holder is elected sometime later this year. Legislation paving the way for the role has been making its way through the Oireachtas and a vote is expected in the second half of the year. Mr Burke has described the role as the "biggest reform of local government in the history of the State".

A vote in 2019 to create the role passed by a margin of 52.4% to 47.6% and the first holder of the office will remain in place until 2029, with five-year terms thereafter. The officeholder will be paid a junior minister's salary of €137,000.

Template for other cities

Mr Burke told the Irish Examinerthat the Limerick mayor would be a "template" for other local authorities which want to devolve powers. To that end, he said, the role would require "real power"

"I've had a number of meetings with colleagues across Government to look at additional powers. The mayor will chair a delivery board, involved in transport or business strategy, for example, which will make a real difference to the county. The mayor will be able to set policy around the awarding of grants and be a statutory consultee in policing and Sláintecare delivery.

"It's about giving the role a lot of powers.

I want it to be the best possible template for other local authorities if they want to replicate it. If we're serious about devolving power, this is the way. Devolving power from Dublin is very hard.

"The mayor will have real power. I'm aware that people will say it's not enough. but the Mayor will have a hand in transport, health and aviation be it consultation or implementation."

The pre-legislative scrutiny report released by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning, and Local Government on the role's legislation found that the mayor would need more powers and easier access to funding than the legislation originally planned.

Peter Burke says a directly elected mayor will help devolve power from Dublin.
Peter Burke says a directly elected mayor will help devolve power from Dublin.

According to the report, if the office of the mayor is to be a success, “it must be of additional value to our democratic processes and not just amount to a new office and role".

Among the 17 recommendations in the report, the committee calls for the bill to be amended to provide “significant additional powers and functions”, which would include areas such as transport, planning, health, and climate.

Mr Burke also told the Irish Examiner that he plans to bring a report by an all-female committee of city and county councillors to Cabinet in the first three months of the year outling how maternity leave for councillors should work.

"We're at 24% women councillors and the issue for me is about retention," Mr Burke said.

"A lot of very capable women are not staying in the council."

He added that he believed the role of councillor should remain part-time as this ensures diversity.

"The fact it's a part-time job means you get a greater skillset. You want it to reflect the society it serves, be it gender, diversity or background."

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