A proposal to vote on directly elected Mayors in Ireland’s main cities has been described as ‘half baked’ by a Waterford councillor.
Voters in Waterford, Cork and Limerick will hold a plebiscite on the proposal on the same day as the local and European elections next May, and a Citizens Assembly will discuss the implications for Dublin next year.
A paper prepared by the Minister of State for Local Government John Paul Phelan, outlined two options for reformed mayoralties. One is to establish a directly elected mayor with no extra powers but based on the current position of council mayors.
The other is for executive mayors who would take on some of the functions of the chief executive of councils. These could either be directly elected by the general public or indirectly elected by the members of the council, as is currently the case.
Independent Cllr Joe Conway says he would like to see directly elected mayors but has concerns about the proposals as currently outlined:
“I’m really worried …it doesn’t stack up to me either financially, politically, organisationally or administratively. It would take away from the malodorous backroom deals that are done after elections and that would be a very good thing for the people in Waterford, but if it involves bringing in a new layer of bureaucracy, if it involves cutting across the culture that organises the council at the moment with the chief executive and his staff, if it involves putting further burdens on the council that is already in hock to the tune of millions, then I would have real worries about it.”
Fellow Waterford Sinn Fein Councillor John Hearne has fought to have directly elected Mayors with executive powers put in place all across Ireland.